The Baltimore Ravens were dealt a crippling blow when mismatch-making tight end Dennis Pitta fractured his hip and was declared out for the season, and the Ravens have announced the signing of veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, whom the Ravens were initially considering as a No. 3 tight end behind Pitta and Ed Dickson before Pitta’s awful injury. Shiancoe spent a brief amount of time with the New England Patriots last season, and it all went horribly wrong for both sides. The Patriots decision to give Shiancoe the “injured reserve designated for return” tag looked good at the time, but it ended up being disastrous. It’s telling that Shiancoe never caught a pass in four games with the team and that the play that stood out the most was his drop of a line-drive from Ryan Mallett that let to an interception.
Shiancoe had success with the Minnesota Vikings, and he did catch 36 passes for over 400 yards in 2011. We also remember his career year and 11 touchdown receptions with Brett Favre throwing him the rock, but it is clear that Shiancoe isn’t close to that level of production as a receiver these days, unless if he turns a complete 180 after his horrendous 2012 campaign with the Patriots.
It looks like Shiancoe’s biggest impact with the Baltimore Ravens will be as a blocker behind Dickson, who will need to step up and give Joe Flacco a safe target if the Ravens are to successfully make up for the loss of Pitta, who was an exceptional talent and made huge plays in the seam (Pitta looked great against the Patriots too).
Shiancoe will be getting a one-year deal at the veteran minimum, which was to be expected. The Ravens brought him in for a visit on Friday, and the decision to sign him following Pitta’s injury (again, they were considering him as the No. 3 TE) was obvious for a team that desperately needed a TE of some competence. The fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worked out Shiancoe a few days earlier shows that teams still believe Shiancoe can offer something and isn’t close to taboo. Even so, the Ravens look a whole lot worse at tight end and significantly worse on offense after losing a weapon like Pitta and only gaining a potentially solid No. 2 TE. Still, there weren’t many other options, and Shiancoe’s blocking will do the Ravens some good.