Anquan Boldin beats two of his new teammates for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVII. (Getty Images)
After the Seattle Seahawks traded multiple picks for former Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, my esteemed colleague, Mike Silver, wrote that the move added more juice to an already heated rivalry between the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. Safe to say that Mike was right about that one -- the 49ers have made their own receiver trade today, swapping a sixth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for receiver Anquan Boldin. The move, first reported by Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, will take about $6 million off of Baltimore's cap, and brings to an end the drama that was going on between Boldin and the Ravens.
Baltimore recently asked Boldin to take a pay cut, and Boldin refused. The 10-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler was a key cog in the Ravens' late-season stretch run and eventual Super Bowl championship. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was convinced enough of Flacco's importance to the team to tell the receiver to "stick to his guns" as he continued to negotiate.
When I spoke to Ravens running back Ray Rice on Monday morning, Rice sounded just as convinced that Boldin could be a major part of any future championship runs.
"Joe Flacco played lights-out, but if there was a runner-up MVP, you'd have to give it to Anquan Boldin," Rice told me. "He was just that guy -- he was the man. I mean, you couldn't take that away from him. Obviously, the quarterback got him the ball and put it in the right places, but sometimes, you just put the ball out there, and he just went and got it. He was my choice for... if there was a runner up for MVP, he was my guy."
Selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, Boldin got his NFL career off to a rocking start by catching 10 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns in his first professional game. In that rookie season, he grabbed 101 catches for 1,377 yards and 10 touchdowns. Boldin's role as the team's number-one receiver was obviously eliminated when Larry Fitzgerald was taken in the first round of the 2004 draft, but Boldin became one of the league's toughest and most effective second receivers in the game. He moved from Arizona to Baltimore after the 2009 season, and though he wasn't as productive as in earlier seasons, he was a major factor on and off the field as the Ravens looked to get younger and more explosive with some different targets.
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His value in Baltimore, especially in the 2012 season, was in making contested catches, and that's something the Ravens will miss. Time and time again, Boldin would find a way to grab Flacco's pass, even if he had a multitude of defenders on him. The 49ers, who still run a relatively traditional "tough-guy" offense even with the additional deep-ball threat of third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick, will certainly ensure that this trade is extremely beneficial for all involved.
The short take? As much as we respect Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, we're wondering if the Ravens weren't pennywise and pound-foolish in this instance. The support Boldin received from his teammates tells the whole story.
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