Last week the Baltimore Ravens asked wide receiver Anquan Boldin to restructure his contract or he would be released. Considering what a beast Boldin was during the playoffs, the move seemed a bit surprising. However, what transpired today has to be considered downright shocking.
Boldin has been dealt to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Boldin is currently on a humanitarian trip to Africa and will join the 49ers once he passes his physical upon his return from Africa.
The Ravens are in the midst of some salary cap issues, mainly on the defensive side, which is why the Ravens asked Boldin to restructure his current contract. Boldin has one year left on his current contract, as he is due $6 million this upcoming season. Boldin reportedly refused to take a pay cut, so the writing appeared to be on the wall.
The trade comes as a surprise mainly because of the way Boldin dominated in the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. In the postseason, Boldin led all players in receptions (22), receiving yards (380) and touchdowns (4), as he took his game to another level. It is also surprising because the Ravens don’t have the deepest receiving corps, so parting ways with their leading receiver seems a bit questionable.
Since joining the Ravens in 2010, Boldin has been the team’s top threat in the passing game by far. He has been targeted 316 times, which is 113 more targets than the next closest Baltimore receiver. His 2,645 receiving yards are 949 more than any other Ravens’ receiver during Boldin’s tenure, and he has double the amount of postseason touchdowns of any other Baltimore receiver.
Instead of releasing Boldin, the Ravens saw fit to get something for the physical veteran receiver. The 49ers got a firsthand look at Boldin during the Super Bowl, as he shredded them for six receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown. For a team that came up just short of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, adding a player like Boldin could be the final piece to the puzzle.
For Baltimore, the move indicates that the Ravens are more than intent on re-signing the likes of Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, Cary Williams and Arthur Jones. With the retirement of Ray Lewis and the Ravens coming off their worst defensive season in franchise history, Ozzie Newsome and the front office have decided what the franchise needs the most. With the team already dealing with salary cap issues, the trade of Boldin creates more cap room for the Ravens to retain the likes of all their defensive free agents.
It remains to be seen what the trade of Boldin will do to an offense that ranked 15th in the league in passing offense during the regular season. Boldin was the top receiver on a team that had zero 1,000 yard receivers, so his trade makes an already thin unit even thinner. Unless the Ravens make a move, their receiving corps will feature Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Tandon Doss, which will not strike too much fear in opponents.
Thus, the Ravens better retain their key defensive free agents, because their offense appears to have taken a step backward with the trade of their top receiver. The Ravens’ offense kicked it into another gear during the postseason, but they were anything but potent during the regular season. If the Ravens don’t find a legit replacement for Boldin, don’t expect them to be able to defend their championship.
Follow James on Twitter @JT3sticks