Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam
December 9, 2012
The Ravens will have a tough decision to make with Anquan Boldin this offseason.
When the Ravens traded a pair of draft picks to the Arizona Cardinals for Anquan Boldin before the 2010 season and gave him a four-year, $28 million contract, the Ravens thought they had landed a true No. 1 wide receiver. Two-plus seasons later, have the Ravens gotten what they paid for? Well, it depends on who you ask and how they choose to measure such a thing. After recording more than 1,000 receiving yards in five of his seven seasons in the desert, Boldin did not get there in either of his first two years playing by the bay (though he might have in 2011 had he not missed the final two games of the regular season). This season, with 58 catches for 828 yards, he is on pace to finish with 1,019. But if intangibles are your thing, Boldin has lived up to his billing. His blocking is still as good as it gets at the wide receiver position, as we saw two weeks ago on Ray Rice's 4th-and-29 catch-and-run. While he rarely speaks with reporters, the team's young wide receivers, Torrey Smith in particular, are said to hang on his every word behind closed doors. And Boldin -- who, with that metal plate in his jaw, has more metal in his grill than most rappers -- can rally the Ravens with his will at times, like we saw against his former team in 2011.
I know I probably shouldn't be looking ahead to the offseason now -- based on some of the sad Tweets sent to me Sunday, I guess I'm not alone in this regard -- but Boldin is entering the final year of his contract. He is scheduled to make $6 million in 2013, a year in which he will celebrate his 33rd birthday. Derrick Mason showed that some savvy wide receivers can produce into their mid-thirties, but the Ravens have also shown that they aren't afraid to cut ties with veterans sooner rather than later (see fan favorites Mason, tight end Todd Heap, nose tackle Kelly Gregg, and linebacker Jarret Johnson). I'm not saying they should do it with Boldin, but they will have a tough decision to make this offseason.
Boldin has made a compelling argument for the Ravens to keep him around the past couple of weeks. Smith did not make many plays in the consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins, and the Ravens are still trying to figure out how to keep him involved when opponents don't let him go deep. But Boldin has been a rock -- but one with an ornery disposition. Against the Steelers, he had five catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. A week later, with Smith held to just one catch for 21 yards, Boldin produced again. His first two catches were made in the end zone -- for 19 and 31 yards, respectively -- and his third preceded Rice's go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. In all, he caught all three passes thrown his way for a team-high 78 yards and two touchdowns, though you could make a solid argument that the play of a true No. 1 wide-out would have commanded more than three targets.
But really, all that matters is what the Ravens think of him. And we are going to find out in a few months.