With news over the weekend that the Baltimore Ravens asked Anquan Boldin to take a $2 million pay cut on his $6 million dollar base deal for 2013 still fresh in the minds of fans, it seems the thought process for the end result is split right down the middle.
Boldin, 32, was a catalyst in the Super Bowl Championship run last season, catching four touchdowns for 380 yards and providing stability in the slot for quarterback Joe Flacco. In the regular season, Boldin caught 65 balls for 921 yards and just four touchdowns in 15 games. His catches and yardage were bests in a Ravens uniform, but Boldin is scheduled a $7.531 million cap hit in 2013 that may prove too costly for a team trying to decide their next steps after Joe Flacco signed his history-making contract.
The Ravens would love to keep a player like Boldin under contract, but not at the rate he’s expected to receive. Boldin wants security from the team after he practically carried the offense on his back in the playoffs.
If Joe Flacco has any say in this, he wants Boldin back, adding in his press conference last week, “[Boldin] has been a big part of this offense. He’s a big part of why I’m standing here talking to you guys. [The contract] definitely increases my confidence that we’ll have him back, and I hope we do.”
It makes sense to bring Boldin back, but in a way that will help the cap number get more relief in the coming season. It appears unlikely Boldin will accept any sort of salary cut, and with the Ravens at nearly $12 million in cap space, they have other priorities and holes that need addressing first.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun one source was quoted as saying, “unless something dramatic happens, it’s an absolute done deal that Anquan will be released.”
His stance that he would retire from the game of football if the Ravens released him may have been just that – a stance to get the Ravens to work out something. But it would be shocking if Boldin did not feel that same way after what he did in the postseason and what he could get from another team in the open market with a weak class of WR free agents.
The Ravens realize this is a business and Anquan Boldin does as well. Ozzie Newsome has said he will not re-structure deals to avoid cap hell like the one they entered after the 2001 season. The Ravens are setting themselves up to be successful two, three, four years down the road.
Of course they’ll miss the experience and leadership Boldin brings to the table, but a guy like Torrey Smith is waiting to be this team’s true #1 receiver with his blend of speed, strength, athleticism and route-running abilities. Jacoby Jones now may become a guy who sees more catches come his way in Jim Caldwell’s offense.
They’ll likely need to bring someone in via free agency, because right now, Tandon Doss isn’t cutting it. That might change heading into next season, but its unlikely.
Fans complained when the team released Derrick Mason after the 2010 season and in the end, the Ravens were fine. They are so good at evaluating talent that they do not miss a beat. They find replacements.
Will they find someone on the market with the level of talent Boldin still has? Most likely not. They could also find someone similar, for a lot less money. That’s the Ravens philosophy, the 80/20 mantra they manage the roster by. They could also be happy with what they have in-house.
Of course, the Ravens could still work something out with Boldin if the stars align correctly.
But with a front office led by Ozzie Newsome, determined to not let past mistakes haunt them again, it’s just the nature of business. It isn’t the popular opinion, especially with how the postseason ended with Boldin at the forefront.
Right now however, the money just doesn’t match-up to have Anquan Boldin be in purple and black in 2013.
Matt Lund is a contributor for BaltimoreSportsReport.com and co-host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @MattCLund.