There is no question that wide receiver Anquan Boldin has played a huge role in the success of the Baltimore Ravens. Since his arrival in 2010, he has been quarterback Joe Flacco’s go to guy. The question is whether Baltimore should resign Boldin for what he wants or let him go in free agency.
The Ravens organization is not one to break the bank in signing players, especially ones that they did not draft. Unlike Flacco, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Ray Rice, Boldin was not drafted by Baltimore, but signed as a free agent. His value to the team is important, but the Ravens feel only at their price. If Boldin does not want to take a pay cut, then he will have to leave Baltimore.
If the Ravens were to let Boldin go how would it affect the team and offense? The answer is probably not much. Baltimore has two very good young wide receivers in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones. Neither is the possession receiver that Boldin is, but bring more big play capability to the offense. Though Boldin got his fair share of catches, the Ravens offense wins with the big play. The big plays in the passing game are made by Flacco throwing deep to Smith and Jones. This will not change if Boldin leaves.
Another reason why the offense will be okay without Boldin are tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. Both are young and just coming into their own. They combined for 82 catches and seven touchdowns in 2012. Those numbers could go up if Jim Caldwell stays on as offensive coordinator. He has some knowledge of how to use tight ends dating back to his days as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. There he had Dallas Clark who only made All-Pro. Flacco is good at throwing seam routes to tight ends and wide receivers. If Boldin leaves, Pitta and Dickson will replace him in running those.
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome knows all of this as he has built the team. Newsome would like to keep Boldin, but as mentioned rarely resigns players whom he did not draft. The Ravens always feel that their scouting department can come up with players to fit their systems on offense and defense. They also feel that where there is one Boldin in free agency then there is another. Jones is a case in point as Baltimore signed him away from the Houston Texans last off season.
In a perfect world, Boldin would be rewarded for his contributions to the Ravens and retire in Baltimore. But the NFL is a business where finances matter. The Ravens do not want to risk losing some of their younger players to free agency by resigning Boldin for more than they can afford.
If Boldin wants to remain in Baltimore it will be on the Ravens terms, because the team’s track record of success makes him expendable.