Posted: 1:29 pm Monday, February 24th, 2014

Could Dennis Pitta replace Tony Gonzalez? 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta runs the ball during an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Baltimore, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta runs the ball during an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Baltimore, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

When the Falcons return from the NFL scouting combine, they will turn their attention to free agency.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said there has been a lot of internal discussions about the team’s free agents, but none have been offered contract extensions.

The Falcons’ list of potential unrestricted free agents include defensive linemen Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry and Corey Peters, offensive linemen Joe Hawley, Mike Johnson, Sean Locklear and Jeremy Trueblood, tight end Chase Coffman, cornerback Dominique Franks and linebacker Omar Gaither.

The Falcons also must replace tight end Tony Gonzalez.

In a report by Clifton Brown, the Ravens Insider for CSNBaltimore.com, the Falcons are considered one of the teams prepared to pounce on Pitta if he hits the free agent market March 11.

Potential suitors for tight end Dennis Pitta will be prepared to pounce if the Ravens and Pitta cannot reach agreement on a new contract. The Falcons, the Packers, and the Patriots are three teams that could be nice fits for Pitta if he ever hits the free agent market March 11.

The Ravens hope that never happens. They are trying to sign Pitta to a long-term deal before the March 3 deadline to use the franchise tag.

However, using the franchise tag on Pitta is complicated. He may challenge his designation as a tight end, saying he should be classified as a wide receiver because he frequently lines up in the slot. The franchise tag number for wide receivers will be at least $11.5 million, compared to $6.9 million for tight ends.

Pitta, who is 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, was drafted out of Brigham Young in the fourth-round (114th overall) in 2010.

Pitta has been productive when healthy. He played in 11 games as a rookie.

In 2011, he had 40 catches for 405 yards and three touchdowns.

In 2012, he had 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.

Last season, he battled back from hip surgery to catch 20 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown last season.

Over the past five seasons, Gonzalez averaged 81.8 catches, 838 yards and seven touchdowns per season. His retirement leaves a grapping hole that likely can be best filled in free agency.

15 comments
DavidThead
DavidThead

I think that we'll be solid with Tioilolo and Coffman, there is no need to go spend money on a TE. Address the O-Line through Free Agency and stack the D up with the draft.

Falcons63
Falcons63

I was being kind to the Georgia fans on the board when I brought up Lynch!LOL! 

LowcountryFalcon
LowcountryFalcon

What about DJ Williams from New England? Wasn't he an all SEC TE at Arkansas?

Really666
Really666

Give me Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Troy Niklas and save that free agent TE money for a vet DT

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Ice loves flicking it to his TE's. Atl is an attractive destination for all FA TEs.

Heck I thought Peele was serviceable(que the GB game at Lambeau in Ice's rookie season) in '08 & '09 before the Gonzo trade.

If it comes down to Pitta or Pettigrew vs Linemen -- can't keep repeating yourselves over and over.

Try the Linemen route this time.

Falcons63
Falcons63

I doubt we spend money pursuing Pitta.  It's more likely that the Falcons play more 4wr sets as opposed to the way the team used Gonzalez, which was basically as a WR..  You have Toilio under contract.   He has the similar skill set to Gonzales... meaning I can't block but I can catch.  With the desire to return to a power running game  I suspect the Falcons will use a pick on a more traditional inline blocking TE in the draft.  Perhaps the kid from Iowa or Lynch from UGA.  Gonzalez was unique.  You aren't going to find a TE to step in and repeat his numbers.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

"[Gonzalez's] retirement leaves a grapping hole that likely can be best filled in free agency." 

A "grapping" hole? What the ... is that? Should we worry that the entire Falcon team will fall into that thing if they walk onto the practice field in preseason practice?

Camaro-Bob
Camaro-Bob

Why is he a over the hill shelfish payler like Gonzoloues?

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

Didn't we invest in a 3rd or 4th round TE out of Stanford?

It is his time to step up  and play some friggin' FB!

Geez, when is a TD draft pick gonna out-play his draft slot?

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

meh, Not a big Pitta fan esp at FA prices. I'd rather role with Toilolo, a blocking TE and another blocking TE with some potential for being a receiving threat.

JSSN
JSSN

Ozzie Newsome would be a on a plane to Cleveland wit/h Modells' shrouded body if he loses Pitta.

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@Falcons63 Lynch can't block in college so he surely won't be a NFL ready blocking TE. 

JSSN
JSSN

@TheRealJay

All you have to do is put the tape of the back half of 2012, Pitta, Gronk, Davis, and Graham were the best TEs in football. If you'd rather have less than that, get ready for a lean year becaise teams are going to take the middle between the hashes away. That is with or without Julio! That's what the Jets dialed up!