Tony Lombardi says the Ravens need to bring Q back. Here’s another take.
I know what I’m about to write won’t be the popular opinion in Baltimore but all I ask is that you hear me out.
Earlier today, USA Today reported that Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin had rejected an offer to reduce his salary and will likely be released before the start of Tuesday’s free agency period. Without a doubt, the Ravens wouldn’t have hoisted the Lombardi trophy last month without his efforts, but clearly his $7.531 million cap figure for 2013 is a pill far too large to swallow.
Boldin’s play during the four playoff games it took the Ravens to win Super Bowl XLVII was stellar to say the least; however, I cannot allow it to cloud my judgment of the average-at-best regular season he produced prior to the playoffs.
Popular opinion around Charm City is to retain Boldin and many want to retain him no matter what, even if it accounts for greater than $7 million towards the Ravens’ upcoming salary cap. Personally, I would be happy to see Boldin return, but absolutely only under the condition that it’s at a drastically reduced cap figure.
Prior to the playoffs, Boldin produced 921 yards and pulled in four touchdown passes during the regular season. While Boldin had the most yards of his Ravens tenure, but he was still three touchdowns shy of what he produced during his first season in Baltimore.
For those concerned with Boldin’s potential impending absence affecting Baltimore’s $120 million investment in quarterback Joe Flacco – everything will be okay. Boldin had acted as Flacco’s security blanket to jump-start the offense but the same concern was presented after Derrick Mason’s release in 2010.
Just as Boldin became a reliable target for Flacco, it’s time for the transition to Torrey Smith, the wide receiver the Ravens have invested a second-round pick in and have seen blossom into one of the young wideout superstars in the league today.
Personally, I’d rather see more balls thrown to Smith than to Boldin.
Smith has shown he is ready for an increased workload and he is prepared to become the clear-cut #1 receiver on the team.
If Boldin does indeed walk out of Baltimore, his $6 million base salary can be better spent elsewhere. The Ravens are roughly $12 million under the salary cap heading into free agency and have plenty of holes to fill on their defense, regardless of whether or not they’re able to resign linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
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 3rd round) and Arthur Jones (likely 2nd round, $2 million). Heading into the draft, they also have 11 picks and will have to sign the newest additions to the team to contracts as well.
Freeing Boldin’s $6 million base salary greatly helps the Ravens retain some of their drafted talent who could be snatched away by other teams, and resign one of the top tier free agent linebackers already familiar with their system.
In a way, Boldin brought this upon himself when he stated after the season that he would retire if the Ravens relased him rather than go to another team. This planted the seed in the organization’s mind that they could offer him less money and he would likely accept. Now we find out that is not the case.
With wide receivers well below Boldin’s caliber – like Brian Hartline of the Miami Dolphins, who recently signed for 5 years and $30.775 million dollars – commanding so much on the open market, Boldin may have looked around and reconsidered his “retirement” stance.
Many say “Trust in Ozzie,” but when it comes to wide receivers he’s consistently missed. However, letting Boldin walk to solidify other areas of the team may be a “win” even though it goes against popular sentiment.