Pitta supports Graham in franchise tag battle

Pitta supports Graham in franchise tag battle
March 5, 2014, 4:15 pm
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Maybe in his next career, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta will be an attorney. Pitta made a compelling case Wednesday, arguing that Saints tight end Jimmy Graham should not be penalized financially for being franchise tagged as a tight end, rather than as a wide receiver.

The franchise tag number for wide receivers ($12.312 million) is more than $5.2 million higher than it is for tight ends ($7.035). Graham and the NFLPA are expected to file a grievance, arguing that Graham should be classified as a wide receiver. Graham played more snaps lined up as a receiver in 2013 than he did as a tight end, and Pitta supports Graham’s position.

“It’s an intriguing debate,” said Pitta, at his press conference to officially recognize his new five-year, $32 million contract. “I’m a little bit biased in my opinion, obviously. You get labeled as something. Take Jimmy Graham for example, he gets labeled as a tight end. For whatever reason, that somehow decreases his value. I don’t understand that part of it. He’s been a top producer in this league, certainly on his team. Led his team in catches, yards, touchdowns. Why all of a sudden, because he’s labeled as tight end, does that devalue his stock?

“More power to him. I think it’s something that he should challenge. It’s not right that he can catch more touchdowns and more yards than maybe someone who’s classified as a wide receiver, yet because he had that tight end label, now all of a sudden his value’s cut in half.”

Pitta avoided his own franchise tag battle by signing his new contract. He sounded eager to play for new Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, whose offenses have relied heavily on tight ends. 

“The last few years I’ve been able to watch Houston’s offense have a lot of great success and be able to utilize the tight end position and get a lot of production out of it,” Pitta said. “I’m excited to be able to kind of fill that role.”