Tight end Dennis Pitta may be the Ravens' top free-agency priority.
And it seems the two are on the same page about their relationship continuing.
Pitta will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but he wants to remain in Baltimore alongside good friend Joe Flacco.
"The past four years have been great being a Raven. I would love to stay here," Pitta said Monday. "It's not in my hands. That's out of my control. I've just got to work hard, be in good shape, and whatever happens, happens."
Pitta returned from a hip fracture and dislocation for the final four regular-season games this season. He proved to be a valuable part of the offense, catching 20 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown.
"It's always tough jumping in at the end of the season, being out four months. Everyone is in midseason form," Pitta said.
"I felt good about what I was able to do. Health wise, I feel great, had no issues with my hip. It was big for me to be able to show that I'm healthy again and that I can be back."
Pitta, 28, hauled in 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012. He became one of Flacco's favorite and most reliable targets, particularly in the red zone and on third down.
If the Ravens opt to put the franchise tag on Pitta, it would be expensive. The five highest paid NFL tight ends all average over $7 million per season, with New England's Rob Gronkowski ($9 million per year) at the top.
Even fellow tight end Ed Dickson, who will also be an unrestricted free agent, seemed to put a higher priority on the Ravens re-signing Pitta over himself. Asked if the Ravens need to ink Pitta, Dickson said, "Without a doubt."
"It's like the John Stockton and Karl Malone connection," Dickson said. "I'm not saying that's the only thing you need, but you've got to keep that alive. He's a great tight end and he'll be great for years to come."
Dickson, who was drafted one round ahead of Pitta in 2010, never broke out the way his draft mate did. Dickson had 25 catches for 273 yards and one touchdown this season. He had 21 grabs for 225 yards and no scores a year ago.
"I most definitely want to be here. Baltimore's my first love," Dickson said. "There was no greater place I could have been for my rookie career – and that's leadership from the top to the bottom.
"But you don't know. There's a lot of different things that we want to do, a lot of things we want to do with the players we have. There are a lot of great players here and they have a lot of people to sign. … I'm 26 years old and I want to be great. I'm going to be great no matter where I am."