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Trade of Q Gets an F

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Anquan Boldin.

The mere mention of his name in your friendly neighborhood sports pub will trigger debate amongst Ravens fans. Most will question GM Ozzie Newsome’s wisdom (or lack thereof) in trading Q for a 6th round pick. Terrell Suggs appeared on NFL Network last night practically busting out of his suit jacket given his bloated stature and mocked the deal.

(Careful there, Sizzle. You could be next.)

Some will defend Ozzie’s decision and say with confidence that the move paved the way for needed reinforcements on defense. The $6M cap savings gave the Ravens a little extra juice for Joe Flacco’s new deal and it made the acquisitions of Elvis Dumervil, Chris Canty, Daryl Smith, Marcus Spears and Michael Huff possible.

I bought what Ozzie was selling, deferring to his well-chronicled resume and football acumen, despite my initial thoughts to the contrary.

Back in March I offered a solution for keeping Q and creating cap space. Boldin’s game isn’t built on speed. He has mastered the art of making contested catches and therefore separation isn’t as critical for him given his great ball skills, positioning and technique. In other words, his productivity could be sustained for another 2-3 seasons.

In hindsight the move was one of Ozzie’s worst. The “right player, right price” equation flunked miserably. Not only was Q’s production in San Francisco like salt in the wound (85 catches, 1,179 yards, 7TD’s), his loss was exacerbated by the very disappointing performances of Messrs. Canty, Spears and Huff, two of which were released well before season’s end.

Making matters still worse was the re-signing of Vonta Leach who accounted for $1.47M of wasted cap space. Leach took just 230 snaps in 2013 down considerably from his 579 snaps in 2012.

Even if Boldin had stayed, the season’s outcome may not have been much different given the wretched performances of the offensive line and the running game. However the argument could be made that adding Q to the mix of Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones may have loosened things up just enough to pave the way for at a serviceable ground attack.

Maybe Boldin could have made a difference of 1 or 2 wins.

The truth is we’ll never know for sure.

But in the end, like any good leaders, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh will learn from this mistake and use the painful lesson to improve moving forward.

If not the team’s owner will make the next lesson even more painful.

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