OWINGS MILLS – Ozzie Newsome was determined to not repeat a mistake he regretted from seven years ago.
The Baltimore Ravens’ general manager has always looked for football players, not track athletes.
Yet, speed counts in the NFL and an extremely pedestrian 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine scared the Ravens off from drafting wide receiver Anquan Boldin out of Florida State.
It was the year that the Ravens wound up trading their second-round draft pick and the following year’s first-round draft pick so they could trade with the New England Patriots to acquire quarterback Kyle Boller.
Boldin wound up emerging as a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Arizona Cardinals 35 picks after the Ravens tabbed Boller, a physically gifted workout warrior who never developed into a successful starter.
Even though Boldin ran much faster at his Pro Day workout, his 4.71 clocking in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine wound up causing the Ravens to rule him out.
Now, Newsome doesn’t have to lament that decision any longer since he landed Boldin in a trade Friday by sending his third-round pick and fourth-round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for the star wide receiver and a fifth-round pick.
“There’s not too many times that you get a chance to recover from a mistake,” Newsome said Monday during Boldin’s introductory press conference at the Ravens’ training complex. “I think I made a mistake in that draft, to worry more about measurables than about the football player.
“And Anquan is a football player. In that situation, I got blinded a little bit and didn’t appreciate the football player as much as I should have. It took me seven years, but I finally got it right.”
The Ravens acquired Boldin and they made him happy by signing him to a three-year contract extension that includes $25 million in new money and $10 million guaranteed for a total deal of four years and $28 million.
Boldin is regarded as a hard-nosed wide receiver that relishes blocking and runs well after the catch.
He had discussed joining the Ravens for the past year.
Ultimately, the Cardinals dropped their trade demands, which were as high as a first-round pick and a third-round pick last year, and the deal was completed Friday afternoon.
“It’s definitely comforting to come to a place where you’re wanted with open arms,” Boldin said.
“I think it’s a place that fits me. The way that I approach the game, the way that I play the game, the guys that they have here, hard-nosed guys that want to win, they don’t worry about the glory or anything like that. I think I fit in perfect with that.”
At 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, Boldin is extremely tough.
Against the New York Jets in 2008, Boldin absorbed a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit from safety Eric Smith that caused several facial fractures.
It required 40 titanium screws and seven plates to piece it back together and repair the damage he suffered.
Shockingly, Boldin was back on the field two games later and caught nine passes in his first game back. He also contacted Smith, who was fined $50,000, to assure him that he didn’t feel like it was a cheap shot and to inform him that he wasn’t holding a grudge.
“It wasn’t anything special as far as coming back,” Boldin said. “I just felt like we had an opportunity to make a run. I just felt like me being on the field would have helped me.
“For me, I tried to get back on the field as soon as possible. I probably would have missed only one game had they let me.”
Boldin is content now that he has a change of scenery and is the featured wide receiver.
Boldin was unhappy for years because he wanted a new contract after being paid less than Larry Fitzgerald.
The contract issue was immediately addressed before he even entered the building.
“It definitely means a lot to me,” Boldin said. “It’s definitely comforting to come to a place where you know that you’re wanted with open arms.”
Now, he’s immediately the Ravens’ No. 1 receiver.
“I just feel like I add a piece to this offense,” Boldin said. “I wanted to go somewhere where, one, I had an opportunity to win a championship. I feel like I have that here. Two, a place that plays defense, runs the ball well and has a great young quarterback. I think Baltimore fits that to a T.”
Two seasons ago, Boldin got in an argument with Todd Haley for being substituted on third down during an NFC championship game.
Boldin downplayed the incident.
“I don’t know if people know it or not, that happens all the time in the NFL,” Boldin said. “It just so happened that it got caught on film. Me and Todd still have a good relationship.”
Boldin has started getting to know Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, a strong-armed passer who lacked a deep threat to connect with on a consistent basis.
The Ravens are a running team primarily, though, and Boldin is a strong blocker.
With the Ravens, his role will be to stretch the field and keep defenses honest and not be able to crowd the line of scrimmage with eight and nine players.
“Hopefully, when guys try to stack the box, that’s when I’ll come into play,” Boldin said.
Last season, the Ravens had the NFL’s 18th-ranked passing game.
Running back Ray Rice led the team with 73 receptions.
Now, it’s likely to be a different story with Boldin’s addition.
“This is something we’ve been hoping for quite a while,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s the kind of guy that’s going to demand attention. He fits us just perfectly. We’re excited about what’s in store. He’s our kind of football player. I think Q feels like he fits the Ravens.”
Boldin is especially excited about joining the Ravens’ rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers after losing to them in the Super Bowl when he was with the Cardinals.
“I’m seeking a little revenge on Pittsburgh anyway,” Boldin said. “They beat us in the Super Bowl. So, I’m definitely looking forward to that matchup.”
Boldin has been extremely productive.
He has averaged 83 receptions and six touchdowns per season.
For his career, Boldin has caught 586 passes for 7,520 yards and 44 touchdowns.
Although he has had a few durability issues here and there, including missing two playoff games last season due to knee and ankle issues, he has continued to play the game with reckless abandon. He attacks defensive backs and delivers the blow.
“I always enjoyed watching him, the way he approached the game and the way he played the game,” Newsome said. Now I have the opportunity to watch him play for us in Baltimore.”
Meanwhile, Newsome didn’t rule out bringing back veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason.
“I will always say we are looking to add good football players to our team,” Newsome said. “I don’t ever close the door on anyone, especially with the talent of Derrick Mason.”
NOTES: It’s no secret in NFL circles or here in Baltimore that backup quarterback Troy Smith wants to play for the Cleveland Browns. Smith has said it. His agent, Ralph Cindrich, keeps saying it.
Now, it’s a question of whether the Browns want to give up a fifth-round pick for the restricted free agent by signing him to an offer sheet and seeing if the Ravens want to match or if a trade could be worked out.
The Cleveland native and former Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State wants to return to his roots.
“He would crawl from Baltimore right now to be able to play in Cleveland,” Cindrich told the Canton Repository. “That’s clearly where his heart is. That’s where his love is. He has a great relationship in Baltimore and with the fans as long as I don’t muck it up too much. He has a great relationship with) Ozzie Newsome. It’s just that this is where home is. In the offseason, he tells me, ‘Get me home.’"
However, Smith is unlikely to have his wish granted now that the Browns have traded for Seneca Wallace from the Seattle Seahawks.
Newsome declined to discuss the trade request.
“I don’t discuss stuff like that,” he said.
The Ravens have said they’re amenable to trading Smith.
“I think Troy can play quarterback in this league as a starter,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during the NFL scouting combine. “That’s why we like him as our backup, because at some point in time, we’re going to need a guy to win two, three, four games for us if Joe gets hurt.
“At the same time, we understand Troy’s desire to be a starter. If something would work out where it’s beneficial to the Ravens from our perspective and it gives him a chance to do that down the road somewhere, then we’re interested in doing that.”
Cindrich indicated that the Browns and Ravens might have already discussed Smith.
“Cleveland has been on the up and up on this thing,” Cindrich said. “I did hear from a source there may have been discussions between the Ravens and Browns.” …
Indianapolis Colts free agent cornerback Marlin Jackson is set to visit the Ravens’ training complex on Tuesday. He has a visit scheduled with the Philadelphia Eagles after meeting with the Ravens. …
Former Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary’s wife, Mary McCrary, was granted a protective order against him. She has accused him of domestic violence and told a Baltimore County judge that she fears for her life, alleging that McCrary has brandished a gun.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital