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Dennis Pitta, Ravens make progress in contract talks

The Baltimore Ravens and Dennis Pitta are headed in the right direction.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Pitta and the Ravens are making progress on a new deal, according to sources informed of the negotiations. Nothing is imminent at this time, with both sides hoping to strike an agreement before the March 3 franchise-tag deadline.

Rapoport has spoken with teams that have a need at tight end, and the collective belief is that Pitta will not reach the open market. If he did, the 28-year-old would garner significant interest. Pitta is believed to be a top offseason priority for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome.

If the Ravens end up tagging Pitta as a tight end, things could get interesting. It's believed Pitta would file a grievance through the NFL Players Association to be tagged as a wide receiver -- at $11.6 million -- after lining up in the slot on 79.7 percent of his routes this past season.

Rapoport has reported that Jimmy Graham would go down the same path if New Orleans uses its franchise tag on the Saints star. The tight end tag is worth $6.8 million, which is significantly less than for wide receivers.

Pitta is an invaluable piece of the Ravens' offense. Joe Flacco struggled without Pitta last season after the tight end suffered a hip injury at the start of training camp. The Ravens -- and their high-priced quarterback -- are simply better when Pitta is opening up the middle of the field.

It makes sense why this is one deal Newsome wants to get done.

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