Regardless of the Sunday’s result in Super Bowl XLVII, the Baltimore Ravens face some critical roster decisions this offseason. Based on his postseason performance, quarterback Joe Flacco is in line for a lucrative long-term deal, but it is possible the Ravens use the franchise tag on him for the 2013 season with the hopes of agreeing to a longer contract at a later point. Free safety Ed Reed is also slated to become a free agent, and with Baltimore already over the projected salary cap for next season he may not finish his career with the team.
But a more interesting potential salary cap casualty has come up recently, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting, logically so, that “financial pressures” may force the Ravens to consider releasing wide receiver Anquan Boldin. 2013 will be the final year of Boldin’s contract, and he is slated to make $6 million. Cutting him would reportedly save the Ravens around $5.5 million, which will obviously be valuable money no matter how the situation with Flacco works out.
If Boldin is released at some point, multiple teams will certainly have some interest in him. Should the Minnesota Vikings, who clearly need wide receivers, be among those teams?
Boldin spent the first seven seasons of his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals. He had five 1,000-yard seasons and was selected to three Pro Bowls during his time with the Cardinals, highlighted by 101 receptions for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns in 2003 on his way to winning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Boldin has performed well for the Ravens during their run to the Super Bowl, with 16 receptions for 276 yards and three touchdowns, including two touchdowns against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. But he will turn 33 in October, and his 65 catches and 921 yards during the 2012 regular season represents his highs in those categories over his three seasons with the Ravens.
I think Boldin is a good fit for the Vikings in an overall sense, though his drop in production in recent years is a concern. He has also played all 16 games in a season just three times in his career, though it’s worth mentioning the Ravens had nothing to play for in Week 17 this season and rested their key players. Boldin’s physical style of play, which has played a role in his past injuries, may also bring a steep decline in his skills as he gets older.
Any concern other teams have about his age, injury history or otherwise may serve to drive Boldin’s market value below what it should be. The Vikings may then have an opportunity to make a reasonable, and perhaps somewhat incentive-laden, contract offer that is agreeable to both sides. I think the Vikings need to be among the first teams to make an offer to Boldin if he becomes available, and a one or two-year deal worth $4-$5 million per year in base salary would not create an issue if they wanted to add another veteran wide receiver in free agency.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.