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Dennis Pitta Hopes To Be Back, But Could Be Facing The End


For nearly all the Ravens players, Monday's locker cleanout was the end of a season.

For tight end Dennis Pitta, it could have been clearing out at the end of a career.

Pitta spent the entire season on the physically unable to return list. He hasn't played in a football game since suffering his second hip fracture and dislocation in as many years on Sept. 21, 2014.

When Pitta announced he wasn't coming back this year, he could still at least hang around the team and go to tight end meetings. He was still a presence around the building.

Now, as the Ravens go their separate ways for the offseason, Pitta could be leaving for good. He may never play in the NFL again because it's just too risky and his body may not be able to handle it. At this point, more than 15 months later, it's still unknown.

Asked if he's thought about life after football, Pitta said, "I think you have to in this situation."

"It'd be naïve to think that's not a reality," Pitta said. "At some point, we all move on from the game of football. Hopefully, it's not that soon for me, but if it is, I've certainly had to think about it."

Pitta is still under contract for three more seasons after signing a five-year deal in 2014. The Ravens would reportedly get $5 million in cap savings if they release Pitta after June 1. However, it would also trigger $2.2 million in dead money this year and $4.4 million in dead money in 2017.

The Ravens were impressed by their three young tight ends this season, and will likely want to get another long look at them next season. Crockett Gillmore led the way with 33 catches for 412 yards and four touchdowns, followed by rookies Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.

"They were a lot of fun to watch," Pitta said. "It's a great group of tight ends – certainly a lot of promise moving forward. I'm excited for that group and what they're capable of."

On the other hand, Pitta's health is still in wait-and-see mode. He practiced for three weeks before the Ravens opted to keep him on the shelf, and seemed to be moving well.

Despite a strong push from Pitta, doctors advised him not to play. Pitta nearly overruled them, but didn't.

Since that final decision day on Nov. 11, not much has changed. Pitta said there is no timeline.

"It's not entirely my decision," Pitta said. "Certainly, I have a lot of weight in what my future holds, but [it is] not totally in my hands. We'll give it some time this offseason, and I'll certainly do some thinking and testing my body and hip, and we'll see."

Pitta reiterated that he does want to get back on the football field.

"I certainly have a desire to play and want to play and want to be a part of this team moving forward," he said. "But we'll see how it plays out."

At some point this offseason, Pitta will lace up the cleats once again to re-evaluate how he feels. Pitta said he felt better in warm weather, but once the cold set in, things "weren't feeling right." He said he felt different than when he came back from the first hip surgery.

"I feel good physically, and I feel like I could go out and run and all that," he said. "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."

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