The Ravens have locked up their franchise quarterback, running back, pass rusher and defensive tackle to long-term contracts in recent years.
Signing players like Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice has allowed the Ravens to keep their nucleus intact, and next on the docket could be working out a deal for emerging tight end Dennis Pitta.
The fourth-year tight end is coming off a breakout year and was given a second-round restricted free agent tender this offseason, meaning he'll play this season on a one-year deal worth $2.023 million. But the two sides are still free to negotiate a long-term contract throughout the season, and the team has expressed interest in extending him.
Owner Steve Bisciotti said at the NFL owners meetings in March that it is a priority to sign Pitta long term.
The challenge, however, is that players in the last year of their contract sometimes want to bet on themselves and play out their deal to see if they can increase their value in free agency. That's what Flacco and cornerback Cary Williams did last year.
"It's a little bit more difficult in the last year, because they get the opportunity to start to smell free agency, and they see what happens to their peers that get into free agency and the market that they command," General Manager Newsome said in April. "But we will attempt to probably try to sign some of those guys."
Pitta has made significant strides in recent years, and last season he hauled in 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. Compared to the other tight ends in the league, Pitta ranked ninth in receiving yards and sixth in touchdowns in the regular season. He added 163 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the playoffs.
The BYU product is one of quarterback Joe Flacco's favorite targets and best friends on the team.
Pitta has great hands and has established himself as one of the most reliable targets on the offense. With Anquan Boldin no longer in Baltimore, the team could look to Pitta to take on an even bigger role this season, which could raise his value.
Pitta has started to climb into the upper echelon of NFL tight ends, and another standout season may have him amongst the top-paid tight ends in the game.
Here's a look at the 10 highest-paid tight ends in the NFL (according to Rotoword), who could set the market for Pitta:
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Eight years, $55.23 million, 13.17 million guaranteed
2012 stats: 11 games, 55 catches, 790 yards, 11 touchdowns
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
*Six years, $42.71 million, $23 million guaranteed
*2012 stats: 16 games, 41 catches, 548 yards, five touchdowns
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers*Six years, $39.8 million, $20.4 million guaranteed
*2012 stats: 15 games, 49 catches, 538 yards, seven touchdowns
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys*Five years, $37 million, $19 million guaranteed
*2012 stats: 110 catches, 1,039 yards, three touchdowns
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers
*Six years, $35.3 million, $12.5 million guaranteed
*2012 stats: 15 games, 71 catches, 816 yards, eight touchdowns
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars
Five years, $35 million, $17 million guaranteed
2012 stats: 16 games, 52 catches, 540 yards, four touchdowns
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
*Eight years, $34.01 million, 11 million guaranteed
*2012 stats: 15 games, 57 catches, 684 yards, one touchdown
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks
Five years, $34 million, $17 million guaranteed
2012 stats: 16 games, 38 catches, 396 yards, three touchdowns
Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers*Five years, $24.7 million, $8.7 million guaranteed
*2012 stats: 16 games, 69 catches, 843 yards, five touchdowns
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
*Four years, $22 million, $6 million guaranteed
*2012 stats: 15 games, 62 catches, 716 yards, six touchdowns