The Ravens have started the process of replacing injured tight end Dennis Pitta.
The team signed veteran Visanthe Shiancoe to a one-year contract Sunday, one day after Pitta went down for the entire season* *with a hip injury. The deal is worth the veteran minimum of $940,000, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.
Shiancoe was immediately fitted for equipment after signing his deal to participate in Sunday's practice. He will wear jersey No. 81.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can," Shiancoe said after finishing his first practice. "Nothing is given. You have to earn everything, and I understand that. That's what I've come in here to do. I have come in here nice and humble."
Even before the injury, the Ravens had shown interest in signing Shiancoe. He visited the Under Armour Performance Center on Friday and watched practice with General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
After Pitta went down, Shiancoe decided to sign with Baltimore.
"That's unfortunate, but it's almost just like the next guy has to step up, and the team has to go on and still prepare," Shiancoe said. "They owe it to the fans; they owe it to themselves."
Shiancoe, a 10-year veteran, spent last season with the New England Patriots. He saw action in four games, but did not register any statistics. Before going to New England, Shiancoe spent five years with the Minnesota Vikings and four with the New York Giants.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end is known as a red-zone threat who can make an impact in the passing game. He has 243 receptions for 2,677 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career. His best season was in 2009 when he had 566 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Ravens like his potential in the red zone.
"The red zone is going to be critical for your big receivers and he and Ed [Dickson] are going to be extremely important down there, and he's done well there," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
Shiancoe will now join a tight end group that includes Dickson, Billy Bajema, Alex Silvestro and Matt Furstenburg. Dickson is expected to take over as the starter, but the No. 2 spot is up for grabs.
Bajema spent last year on the roster as the No. 3 tight end, but was primarily just used in goal-line situations and as an extra blocker. He did not have any catches last season.
Silvestro was on the practice squad last year and Furstenburg is an undrafted rookie out of Maryland.
Shiancoe participated in a limited portion of Sunday's practice, as he still has to learn the terminology and get understanding of the offense. Once he gets the system down, he's he'll compete with Bajema, Silvestro and Furstenburg for the No. 2 tight end spot that has opened up on the roster.
"I'm glad to be here as a Raven," Shiancoe said. "I'm really excited for the opportunity, and I'm just ready to work."