Everything was coming together for Dennis Pitta, and then it all fell apart.
After an outstanding 2012 season that included a touchdown catch in the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl victory, the former BYU tight end was positioned for another big year at just the right time. But then he collided with a defensive back during Saturday’s practice, sustained a fractured and dislocated hip and underwent surgery that will sideline him for the season.
The timing could not be worse, for him or his team. Pitta recently signed a one-year contract that will make him a free agent after this season. The good news is he’ll be paid $2 million while rehabilitating, but the injury also reduces his market value. Pitta will have to rely on his statistics from his first three NFL seasons in persuading the Ravens (or another team) to sign him to a long-term deal.
That’s the long-range forecast. In the short term, Pitta will miss a great opportunity to grow within Baltimore’s offense. He already became a breakout star in 2012, catching 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season. During the Ravens’ four-game postseason run, he made 14 receptions for 163 yards and three scores.
Pitta’s role would have expanded this season, following Baltimore’s trade of receiver Anquan Boldin. His friendship and working relationship with quarterback Joe Flacco made him especially valuable to the Ravens, as they retooled after the Super Bowl season. Baltimore lost pass-rushing star Paul Kruger, the ex-Utah defensive lineman, among other notable free agents.
Pitta’s injury comes after his former BYU teammate, receiver Austin Collie, missed the 2012 season with a knee injury and was released by Indianapolis. Collie, who also has a history of concussions, is hoping to return to the NFL after trying out for a few teams recently.