The Ravens released tight end Dennis Pitta with an injury waiver June 7, five days after the popular tight end suffered his third major hip injury, which is likely to be career-ending for the seven-year veteran.
Pitta had battled back from a second hip dislocation to lead the Ravens with 86 catches last year -- a franchise record for a tight end -- for 729 yards and two touchdowns.
But during an OTA workout June 2, Pitta suffered what has been reported to be another dislocated hip. The workout was not open to the media, but according to the team, Pitta stretched to make a catch and fell to the turf, and when he went to get up, he could not put any weight on his leg.
The gravity of the injury -- and the respect the organization has for Pitta -- was apparent when general manager Ozzie Newsome released a statement the day Pitta was injured.
"This is incredibly disappointing, obviously for Dennis, and for the Ravens," Newsome said in the statement. " ... Dennis is one of the great Ravens, and he has done everything he can to make our team better."
Pitta and the Ravens had renegotiated his contract this offseason, with Pitta taking a $2.5 million pay cut each of the next two seasons. Because the contract included an injury waiver, the Ravens will save about $2 million in cap space, which might come in handy with a couple of high-profile wide receivers -- Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker -- likely on the open market.
After missing all of the 2015 season while recovering from his second hip injury, Pitta defied the predictions of many and returned to action last season in one of the team's feel-good stories of the year. Not only did he lead the Ravens in receptions last season, but he was the only tight end who appeared in all 16 games.
Just last month, Pitta said he felt healthy and ready for his eighth NFL season, and noted one of the big differences between this year and last year was that he wasn't getting peppered with questions about his hip.
A fourth-round pick out of Brigham Young in 2010, Pitta set career highs with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the Ravens' 2012 Super Bowl season, and he had a touchdown catch during the Ravens' Super Bowl victory.
But during training camp the following summer, Pitta suffered a fractured and dislocated hip. He returned to action for the final four games that season, but then in Week 3 the following season, he crumpled to the ground without contact at Cleveland after suffering another hip injury. Pitta missed the remainder of that season and then all of the 2015 season recovering from that injury.
Entering this season, tight end was considered one of the deepest positions on the team, with six veterans on the roster. But injuries have kept Ben Watson (Achilles), Maxx Williams (knee) and Darren Waller (undisclosed) on the sideline, and now Pitta has been released. That leaves Nick Boyle and Crockett Gillmore as the only healthy tight ends who were with the team last year.
Pitta is technically now a free agent after his release, but he is facing another lengthy rehabilitation and retirement seems likely.
Pitta finishes his Ravens career with 224 catches for 2,098 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season, and also had 21 catches for 233 yards and four touchdowns during the postseason.