(Updated: 11:55 a.m.)
Dennis Pitta still isn’t ready to give up on his football career.
Having played in just seven games since Super Bowl XLVII due to two devastating injuries to his right hip, the Ravens tight end has decided to attempt a comeback for the 2016 season, according to FOX Sports. The organization begins its offseason workout program in Owings Mills next week.
Pitta, 30, returned to the practice field last October after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list, but he and the Ravens decided it would be unsafe for him to be activated at the conclusion of a 21-day practice window. The 2010 fourth-round pick hasn’t played since suffering a second dislocation and fracture to to his right hip on Sept. 21, 2014, almost 14 months after the first injury took place.
“It didn’t quite respond the way we had hoped,” said Pitta last November after deciding against being activated. “Sitting down with doctors over the last couple of days, we decided that it was certainly too much of a risk at this time and too unsafe to take the field. That was a decision that we made collectively.
“At the end of the day, we can’t ignore what sound medical science has to say.”
In addition to team officials and doctors needing to feel comfortable enough to clear him for a return in 2016, Pitta was scheduled to make a $5 million base salary, but he has agreed to take a pay cut with incentives to earn some of the money back, according to multiple reports. That figure needed to be adjusted to protect the Ravens from being on the hook for such a large salary if he were to injure his hip a third time. His $4 million base salary in 2015 was fully guaranteed, which made it an easy call to allow Pitta to explore a possible return last season.
Pitta signed a five-year, $32 million contract that included $16 million guaranteed in 2014, but he has played in just three games since then.
The Ravens further augmented the tight end position last month by signing veteran Benjamin Watson and have selected three tight ends — Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle — in their last two drafts, clear indications that they haven’t counted on Pitta to continue his football career. Releasing the veteran after June 1 would clear $5 million in cap space and leave $4.4 million in dead money on the 2017 salary cap.
“I feel good physically, and I feel like I could go out and run and all that,” Pitta said in early January. “It’ll be about weighing the risks versus the rewards at this point. We’ll do some thinking over the next few months in the offseason, get with the doctors again and go from there.”
In 50 career games, the Brigham Young product has caught 138 passes for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end made three touchdown receptions in the 2012 postseason run that ended with a win in Super Bowl XLVII.