Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is finding out the third time is not always a charm. He tore up his hip again in a non-contact scenario at OTA practice last Friday. Career over—book it this time, Dan-o. The only plus side to any of this tragedy is the Ravens can save $2.5 million in cap space this year by waiving Pitta with an injury settlement now.
In another development, the Ravens signed cornerbacks Brandon Boykin and Al-Hajj Shabazz Monday afternoon. To make room on the roster, Baltimore released cornerback Kyle Arrington, who missed all of last season with a concussion.
Boykin, 26, is entering his sixth NFL season after missing last year with a torn pectoral. The Bears signed him to a one-year contract last spring, but the injury landed him on injured reserve in August. Before signing with Chicago, Boykin played three years in Philadelphia and one season with Pittsburgh. The 5-foot-10, 182-pound defender has been a quality slot cornerback throughout his career. He was a top-30 cornerback in the NFL from 2013-2015, according to Pro Football Focus.
Over his career, Boykin has eight interceptions, five forced fumbles and a pair of sacks.
Shabazz, 24, entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted cornerback out of West Chester (Pa.). He’s mostly been a practice squad player and special teamer, and has spent time with the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Steelers and Houston Texans.
Releasing Arrington will reportedly free up $2.1 million in cap room, according to Spotrac. The Ravens initially signed him in 2015 and he played in 15 games last season. It’s unknown whether the 30-year-old defender plans to continue his playing career. He hasn’t been on the field at Ravens Organized Team Activities this offseason.
Just like last time, Pitta’s hip injury happened without contact. Pitta stretched to make a catch, just like he’s done a million times. He fell to the turf and tried to get up, but couldn’t put weight on his leg.
It’s devastating news for the Ravens and Pitta, as it’s his third major hip injury in four years – just when it looked like it was finally behind him and his career was back on track. After his second hip dislocation/fracture Pitta sat out nearly two years before a miraculous return last season. Not only did he play in all 16 games, but he led all NFL tight ends in receptions (86) and posted a career-high 729 receiving yards and two touchdowns. It was the most catches by a Ravens tight end in franchise history, and Pitta was named a second alternate to the Pro Bowl.
Some may remember this column ‘s calling on Pitta to retire to protect his ability to walk normally in his later life the last time this hip fracture/dislocation thing happened. Of course he fooled me for a while with that second comeback, including last year’s receptions total.
But this time he’s got to quit for the sake of not just himself, but also the sake of his young family, who deserve a dad and a husband whom they don’t have to worry about becoming crippled for life.
“Dennis is one of the great Ravens, and he has done everything he can to make our team better,” GM Ozzie Newsome said. “”This is incredibly disappointing, obviously for Dennis, and for the Ravens.”
Do you wish the Ravens had drafted Alabama’s tight end O. J. Howard? Had Pitta’s third hip injury occurred before the 2017 Draft, they probably would have selected Howard.
In reality, the Ravens are thinner at tight end than it looks on paper. There’s Benjamin Watson, who is in the midst of his own comeback story at age 36 and coming off a season-ending Achilles injury from last year. Watson isn’t yet practicing. Then there are Crockett Gillmore, Nick Boyle, Darren Waller and Maxx Williams. All of them have had durability issues. Boyle has had the recurring problem with banned supplement suspensions. Williams is about eight months removed from a complicated knee surgery.