If there’s one unit that doesn’t need restocking this offseason in Baltimore, it’s the tight end position.
The Ravens have six tight ends under contract through 2017, including a league leader (Dennis Pitta), a respected veteran (Benjamin Watson) and a hungry youngster returning from injury.
Crockett Gillmore has finished the last two seasons sidelined by separate back, shoulder and thigh injuries, but he isn’t letting his fragile health and Baltimore’s crazy tight end depth thwart his comeback attempt.
“I don’t want to come off the field. All downs, every down, and (I want to be) the guy,” Gillmore said in Houston last week, per the team. “There’s no reason I shouldn’t be. There’s no reason I can’t be. That’s great we have nine tight ends. They’re going to enjoy the bench. That’s just reality. I’ll tell them. They know.”
Not all six tight ends — Gillmore, Pitta, Watson, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and Darren Waller — can make the team’s 53-man roster, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be employed in Baltimore by training camp either. But it’s not clear which tight ends are expendable.
Still on his rookie deal, Gillmore is owed less than $1 million before entering free agency in 2018. His production pales in comparison to Pitta and Watson, the former of whom led all tight ends with 86 catches in his return from back surgery in 2016. However, the two oft-injured veterans are owed $7.7 million and $4 million, respectively, making their presence on the 53-man roster more costly than their younger peers.
Even if the tight end position is slimmed down to four by the start of the season, who’s to say, aside from himself, Gillmore will be the guy going forward? Before he was lost last season to injury, Gillmore saw just eight receptions. Even during his breakout 2015 campaign, Gillmore was splitting catches with Williams, a rookie and fellow backup tight end.