Trading Anquan Boldin Not The End Of The World For The Ravens

NFL Steve O Speak

Today, the Baltimore Ravens traded Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers and I may be alone in my opinion, but this is not the end of the world for the Ravens or their fans. The Ravens have traveled this road and recently. With Ozzie Newsome in charge of a proven front office that is considered one of the best in all of sports, the organization is going to be just fine after today’s deal.

Boldin traded to 49ers

Boldin traded to 49ers

Does it hurt losing Boldin, you bet it does. This could really sting in an off-season when the heart and soul of the defense has retired and the second in charge, Ed Reed, could be leaving as well.

Boldin, considered the heart, soul and toughness of the offense is absolutely going to be missed. Fans will point to his leadership and of course, his stellar postseasons with the Ravens.

Boldin caught six passes for 104 passes and a touchdown in the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the 49ers last month in Super Bowl XLVII.

Missed even more is what you cannot see in the stat line. His catch on a bomb down the sideline and how he saved Ravens QB Joe Flacco when he hauled in a critical third-and-1 pass in the fourth quarter with 7:14 left to keep a drive moving that resulted in a Justin Tucker Filed goal, is not going to be replaced easily.

The three points forced the Niners to have to score a TD to win the game on the final drive, which they failed to do.

Boldin had a good 2012 season, catching 65 passes for 921 yards (both highs during his three years in Baltimore). In all during the playoffs, he caught 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He is the Ravens’ all-time leader in playoff receiving yards with 616 and six touchdowns.

Even at 32, Boldin is still one of the game’s most productive players. Of all current NFL players, he ranks third in yards per game over his career (72.6), just behind Houston’s Andre Johnson and Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald. He is also third in average receptions per game (5.5).

Trading Boldin to San Francisco was as good as it was going to get for the Ravens. The Vikings, who traded the disgruntled Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the day, offered a seventh round selection but the sixth rounder from the Niners sealed the deal.

According to The Baltimore Sun, over the weekend the Ravens asked Boldin to take a $2 million pay cut or be released. Boldin, who was set to have a $6 million base salary ($7.531 million salary-cap figure), reportedly rejected the offer. Instead of releasing Boldin and getting nothing in return, the Ravens opted to trade him to John Harbaugh’s younger brother, Jim.


Todd Heap and D.Mason No. 2 and 1 in franchise history in rec.

Todd Heap and D.Mason No. 2 and 1 in franchise history in rec.

Furthermore, after years of “A” drafts, signing just the right free agents, as well as cutting the right ones, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt on his decision to trade Boldin. Newsome does have experience to draw from when he cut the franchises No.1 and 2 all-time leading receivers immediately following the lockout in 2011.

Following the lockout, Newsome and Ravens brass released wide receiver Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap. Both also happened to be two of Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s favorite targets at the time. Heap and Mason combined to catch 101 passes for 1,401 yards and 12 touchdowns the year before they were cut. At the time, Mason was six years older than Boldin, who led the Ravens in 2010 with 64 catches and 837 yards.

Mason, who had 802 of those yards in 2010 and seven touchdowns, tied with Boldin for the team lead, played for two teams the following season. He signed with Rex Ryan and the Jets before finishing the year with the Houston Texans. After he left Baltimore, Mason never scored another touchdown and had just 170 receiving yards in 12-games.

Less than a year after his release from the Ravens left him angry and bitter, Mason returned to the organization that he said his heart never left to say goodbye for good. Wearing the same suit that he wore when he signed with the Ravens in March 2005, Mason announced his retirement in June of 2011.

Heap signed with the Arizona Cardinals and did not fare much better than Mason did. The 12-year veteran missed more games (16) than he played (12) over two seasons. In 13-games with Arizona, the former Ravens first round selection (31 overall) of the 2001 Draft compiled 377 yards and one touchdown in just 13-games. The team cut him in early December, before the season ended.

Regardless, Joe Flacco recovered just fine and so did the Ravens. It is the nature of this business. Next man up is the philosophy with which this organization prides itself. in. That mantra will be put to the ultimate test this off-season

While it is very true that Flacco probably would not have won the little “red Corvette” that accompanies the Super Bowl MVP winner, or recently became the games highest paid player without Boldin, the Ravens have plans for Boldins $6 million salary ($7.531 million cap figure) for the 2013 season.

Let us be honest here. Yes, the Ravens won football games in a much different way during the 2012 season but ultimately, a big reason they hoisted the game’s biggest prize was that their defense got healthier and played much better in January than it did at any time this season. No touchdowns surrendered to Andrew Luck, holding Peyton Manning 21-points in Denver and shutting out Tom Brady in the second half in Foxborough wasn’t because of anything Joe Flacco or Anquan Boldin did.

Deep down this is an organization that believes you still win football games with a top-notch defense and a solid rushing attack. They are happy to have a franchise quarterback and paid for their decision not to pay him more money last off-season – but trading Boldin for a sixth round pick may help support the fact that Ravens feel they are OK on offense and will work to spend a little more than they expected to on the defense this off-season.


Boldin was not the only Ravens receiver that had a huge post season and that may have played a part in today’s decision. Paying a 32-year old receiver when you possess two proven NFL play makers at the position, who are ten and four years younger may not be good business sense in the long run.

In today’s NFL, the long run is Thursday September 5 for the Ravens, the day they open the 2013

Newsome and company are putting an extreme amount of faith into the next NFL player taking his turn on dancing with the Stars, Jacoby Jones and former Maryland standout Torrey Smith. Smith was not happy about the move. He wrote on his Twitter account, “This business is BS at times.” While that may be true, it is a business and the Ravens have a history of knowing how to conduct it.

Jones was a tremendous acquisition for Newsome last offseason after he signed him from the Houston Texans. At 28, Jones is four years younger than Boldin and had an extremely clutch post season himself. During the Ravens Super Bowl run, Jones had five catches for 147 yards. But two of his catches were for 77 and 56 yards and produced touchdowns that Ravens fans will talk about forever. So will Broncos and 49ers fans for that matter.

He also set and NFL record by returning the second half kickoff in the Super Bowl 109 yards for another Ravens touchdown. This after he ran back three kicks (2KO and 1 PR) for touchdowns during the regular season. Two of them resulted in Ravens wins over the Cowboys and Steelers.


Boldin’s money may also serve the Ravens well in another area. While much has been made about Ravens unrestricted free agents like Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, Carey Williams and Paul Krueger, they have some pretty good unrestricted free agents to tender. Most of them other teams would be happy to have as well.

The Ravens are roughly $18 million under the salary cap heading into free agency and have plenty of holes to fill on their defense. The team has stated that they are targeting Dannell Ellerbe and not Paul Krueger.

The Ravens will still have to assign tenders to restricted free agents like tight ends Dennis Pitta (likely a second round, $2 million) and Ed Dickson (likely third round) and Arthur Jones (likely second round, $2 million). Heading into the draft, and following the Boldin trade they have 12 picks and will have to sign the draftees to contracts.

Freeing Boldin’s $6 million base salary will greatly help the Ravens retain some of their drafted talent.

I suppose Boldin’s comments from the days immediately following the Super Bowl when he told NBC Sports Network’s Eric Kuselias Sr., “I won’t play in another uniform. We have a saying, once a Raven, always a Raven, and I’ll always be a Raven.” Boldin finished by saying, “Baltimore is the only place I want to play,” Boldin said. “It’s the last place that I will play. For me, I’ll retire a Raven — I’m not putting on any other uniform.”


Ozzie Newsome

Ozzie Newsome

So much for the love-love feeling, players feel after winning the Super Bowl.  Boldin, who is in Africa on a mission, needs to pass a physical before the trade with San Francisco becomes complete.  Boldin’s change of mind may have come when he saw what the Miami Dolphins paid Brian Hartline (5-yrs $30.77 m $12.5 m guaranteed) and how receivers with less talent and accomplishments are going to get rich quick this free agency period.

Anquan Boldin put up some very clutch and impressive numbers during his stay in the Charm City. He caught 186 passed, amassed 2,645 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns in 45 regular season games.With that said, let us not forget about the following stats either.

Since moving to Baltimore in 1996, the Ravens, led by GM Ozzie Newsome, have had 17 drafts and selected 17 players in the first round. These picks have earned an amazing 53-combined Pro Bowls and several All-Rookie honors.

Additionally, The Ravens have had 30 different players earn Pro Bowl honors since the team’s inception in 1996. Of those, 16 are homegrown players – 15 drafted and one signed as a rookie free agent.

Do not be alarmed by the Ravens late pick in this year’s draft. Newsome and his staff have also proven to be above average there as well. The Ravens have found gems late in the first round, including LB Ray Lewis (26th), TE Todd Heap (31st), S Ed Reed (24th), G Ben Grubbs (29th) and T Michael Oher (23rd).

Newsome and the Ravens have a history of unearthing rookie free agent gems. On their final 2012 53-man roster, Baltimore had 13 players who entered the NFL as rookie free agents. Of those 13, the Ravens originally signed nine. In all, The Ravens had 13 Pro Bowlers on their 2012 53-man roster, including six who earned 2012 All-Star honors: S Ed Reed (ninth), DT Haloti Ngata (fourth), FB Vonta Leach (third), RB Ray Rice (third), G Marshal Yanda (second) and WR/RS Jacoby Jones (first).

Only Reed is considered a candidate not to return. I give you the above stats to calm the fan base down a bit after today. The Ravens will be just fine.

According to the Ravens media site, “Ozzie Newsome’s legacy is unlike any the game has seen. Known throughout all of sports as a premier leader, Newsome is a Hall of Fame player, the architect of Baltimore’s 2000 and 2012 Super Bowl championship teams and an elite personnel evaluator who became the NFL’s first African American general manager.”

Newsome also fosters a working environment that breeds standout coaches. By bringing in individuals who embrace the “Raven way,” Newsome aims to create a synergy that manufactures success among scouts, coaches and players. As a result, Baltimore has had many assistants move on to become head coaches on the collegiate and NFL levels.Super Bowl XLVII - Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers

Currently, seven head coaches (6- NFL 1- NCAA) came through the Ravens organization. Furthermore, after stints in Baltimore, eight former head coaches are now assistants or doing something with the game somewhere.

To paraphrase a Bob Marley song, “You rose up this morning– Smiled with the risin’ sun, three little birds.” Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”

With Ozzie Newsome at the helm, you can do it again tomorrow and nothing could be truer, everything will be all right. Except there is one less bird to smile about——for now

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