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Joe Flacco A Factor In Dennis Pitta Staying

Dennis Pitta went into his first NFL offseason with some uncertainty about where he would end up next year.

He knew he could end up on another team, but he never really wanted to leave Baltimore.

And part of the reason was sticking with quarterback Joe Flacco.

"It's certainly a factor," Pitta said when asked about the importance of staying with his close friend and one of the NFL's top quarterbacks. 

"You want to go into a situation where first and foremost you're comfortable."

The two have grown close during their NFL careers, and they regularly spend time together away from football. They both have young children, and hang out together as families during the season.

Despite their close relationship, Pitta insists that Flacco didn't do too much recruiting the last few weeks while the Ravens were negotiating a long-term contract with him.

"We really didn't talk a lot about contracts and all of that," Pitta said. "He wanted me to stay as much as I wanted to stay. We have a great friendship and a good chemistry on the field. It was something I certainly wanted for my career and I'm sure he enjoys the fact that I'm staying."

Playing together the last four seasons has been mutually beneficial.

They both were critical during the run to Super Bowl XLVII victory, and have been rewarded handsomely since. Flacco's six-year, $120.6 million contract signed last season was the biggest in NFL history at the time, and now Pitta has a five-year deal reportedly worth $32 million. Both are paid as two of the NFL's top players at their positions.

Pitta has proven to be one of Flacco's most trusted and reliable targets.

He emerged as a starter in 2012, and caught 10 touchdown passes (including playoffs) during that championship season. A hip injury limited him to four games in 2013, and he finished with 20 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown.

Flacco struggled with Pitta out of the lineup last season, throwing a career-high 22 interceptions. The offense had problems throughout the year, and the absence of Pitta was a big part of the issue.

"It was a big blow to us," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "Obviously, we worked hard to try to overcome it, but it's hard to replace a great player at a position in training camp like that."

Pitta and Flacco are now both under contract for the next five seasons. Pitta is a critical piece of the passing game, and is a safety net for the franchise quarterback.

Keeping him in Baltimore allows the Ravens to maintain the nucleus of their offense for the foreseeable future, which was exactly what both sides wanted.

"You know where you fit into an offense and you have a good relationship with the quarterback," Pitta said. "That on-field chemistry is important. Joe and I certainly have that, so we can kind of continue to build off that and kind of pick up where we left off. It's exciting to be part of it."

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