Ravens sign veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe

The Ravens have acted quickly following the season-ending injury suffered by tight end Dennis Pitta, a prognosis confirmed by the team Sunday.

Baltimore signed tight end Visanthe Shiancoe to a one-year contract this afternoon, bringing the 10-year veteran back to his home state. The 33-year-old was born in Laurel, Md., and played his college ball for Morgan State.

Shiancoe expressed excitement to join the Ravens.

“No. 1, they are champions. You can’t beat that. You can’t beat that type of energy here,” he told reporters. “They have a great team. A lot of people are coming back. They lost a couple of guys, but with (Ozzie Newsome’s personnel staff), he knows how to bring in some good guys. They are pretty stacked on defense. They have a good offense. I just see a good opportunity here. That’s what I see.”

Shiancoe has played in 148 career games (90 starts), most recently with the New England Patriots in 2012. The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder was on the club’s active roster for five weeks, seeing action in four games while being inactive for another.

Shiancoe has 243 catches for 2,677 yards (11.0 average) and 27 touchdowns in his career after the New York Giants selected him in the third round of the 2003 draft (91st overall).

“We’re very excited to have him here,” coach John Harbaugh told reporters Sunday. “We played against him a number of times - Philly versus New York Giants, and of course Minnesota we played him a few years back. A real talented pass-receiving tight end. A good, tough blocker.

“You can see he’s in great shape. One of the things that we were really impressed about him is how fit he was. He blew away the conditioning test, and he blew away his workout. He really looks good. He’s very excited to be here. He’s from down in Bowie. He’s a Morgan State guy. He’s been in the league a long time. He’s had a great career - many awards - so we’re excited to have him on board.”

Shiancoe spent four seasons (2003-06) with the Giants before playing five years (2007-11) with the Minnesota Vikings. His best season was in 2009, when he racked up a career-high 56 catches for 566 yards (second-most of his career behind his 596 in 2008) and a career-best 11 touchdowns.

He had at least 500 receiving yards each season from 2008-10 and at least 27 catches each year from 2007-11.

At the very least, Shiancoe should provide the Ravens with an experienced backup to Ed Dickson. At most, the team has added another passing option or insurance should Dickson be unable to stay healthy like a year ago, or if he struggles to produce.

Shiancoe felt bad to see Pitta go down, but thought he might sign with the Ravens even before the injury. He watched practice with Newsome earlier this week.

“That’s unfortunate, but it’s almost just like the next guy has to step up, and the team has to go on and still prepare. They owe it to the fans; they owe it to themselves,” Shiancoe said to the media. “(Before the injury,) I still thought it was a good opportunity. I talked to Ozzie for a long time. I talked to John. Everything just panned out pretty well here.”