Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) reacts after catching a touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dennis Pitta 2014 NFL Free Agency Destination: Atlanta Falcons

With all the rapid pace of a common NFL season it becomes easy to miss how important certain players are to a team in favor of keeping an eye on the proven stars.  That is why people continue to overlook tight end Dennis Pitta.  The Baltimore Ravens standout was a huge part of their championship run, making big plays the whole way.  Yet nobody talks about the fact that he could enter free agency in 2014.

Joe Flacco hopeful the Ravens find a way to keep Pitta

Strange as it may sound, it isn’t unheard of for championship-caliber teams to lose large parts of their offense between seasons.  Tom Brady lost both his starting receivers after his 2004 run.  Eli Manning lost both Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer in 2009.  Luckily for Joe Flacco, Baltimore only subjected him to one unkind cut when they traded Anquan Boldin to San Francisco.  The remaining key free agents were kept in house, including tight end Dennis Pitta.  Going into his fourth year, he has improved every season.  The 2012 campaign was his best yet, hauling in 61 passes for 669 yards and 7 touchdowns.  He was a favorite target of Flacco all the way through the Super Bowl.  The problem is that may not last much longer.  Pitta is a free agent in 2014 and at the rate he’s improving he could cost more than the Ravens are willing to pay just based on history.  If that happens, where could he end up after that?

Falcons keen on finding Matt Ryan a target after Tony Gonzales

They dodged a bullet and the Atlanta Falcons know it.  If they hadn’t gotten All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzales to reconsider retirement, there was nobody in the same zip code of skill level on the roster to replace him.  Newsflash:  there still isn’t.  Gonzales will suit up for 2013 but Atlanta must put a plan in place to make sure quarterback Matt Ryan has options in the middle of the field beyond this season.  Otherwise their Super Bowl hopes take a major hit.  The one big difference between this year and next year however are the Falcons will have a favorable salary cap situation.  Should Gonzales do as expected and retire for good, the Falcons can use upwards of $20 million in cap space to peruse NFL free agency for help.  Finding Pitta there would be like a match made in heaven.  He is known best for his ability to catch tough passes in the middle of the field and is a big threat in the red zone, just like the future Hall of Famer.

Mark it on the calendar.  If Baltimore pinches the pennies hard next year, keep a close eye on the phone lines between the Atlanta Falcons headquarters and the state of Maryland.  There’s a good chance Dennis Pitta will become a primary free agent target.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons Dennis Pitta Joe Flacco Matt Ryan Tony Gonzales

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