Saying Goodbye to Anquan Boldin was the Right Choice




The way many Ravens fans are whining about the departure of Anquan Boldin is like a bunch of scorned women at a wedding shower bellyaching about men.

Get over it!

Anquan Boldin is gone!

He’s not coming back!

Oh and by the way, it was THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

Of course the Ravens will miss his physicality and leadership at wide receiver.

And yes they will be challenged to replace the 62 catches, 882 yards and 5 touchdowns that he averaged as a 3-year starter for John Harbaugh. But the $6 million it would have taken to keep him would not have been money well spent for a player who ranked 25th among pass catchers last season.

Let’s not forget that Boldin will be 33 years old on October 3. Let’s not forget that he doesn’t create separation, that he’s not the greatest route runner and that most linebackers can outrun him.

What Boldin excels at is making contested catches that usually requires proper ball placement by his quarterback. So while Boldin finished plays, Joe Flacco enabled them.

The challenge for offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell since the day Boldin headed west to San Francisco has been to develop a way to distribute the ball and create space on the field with various route combinations in order to account for the lost productivity in the passing game.

Before Dennis Pitta’s injury the Ravens planned to increase his targets; to use Ed Dickson’s speed to create mismatches in a manner similar to the way the 49ers use Vernon Davis; to increase Jacoby Jones’ workload; and of course to ask someone else to step up and make a modest 2-3 catches per game.

That seemed reasonable. It still does even after the Pitta injury.

The biggest difference between this plan and keeping Boldin for a fourth season is the $6 million. Instead of giving it to Boldin, Ozzie Newsome made the decision to use those valuable cap resources to improve a slow and aging defense.

“The acquisitions of Elvis Dumervil and Michael Huff are a direct result of the money we saved from [the Boldin] contract,” Newsome recently shared with Peter King at The Under Armor Performance Center. “And other guys we got—Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, Daryl Smith—were helped by the savings.

The aforementioned five players in total represent $7.685M of the team’s cap. Remove Canty’s ($1.51M) cap figure and it’s practically the same cap figure that Boldin alone would have carried.

The new defenders’ expected contributions (and we got a taste of that on Thursday night in Tampa) combined with Caldwell’s redistribution in the passing game is an infinitely better way to use the $6M than bringing back Boldin for one more season on a team that without change would have fielded a sub-standard defense.

No one could have predicted the injury to Dennis Pitta. To help offset the loss of Flacco’s Favorite target, the Ravens signed Dallas Clark, a signing one day removed from the acquisition of Brandon Stokley.

At this point in his career, Clark probably isn’t the player Pitta is and Stokley isn’t the player Boldin is. But the differences in productivity aren’t enough to justify the outcry for Boldin.

Last season Pitta had 61 catches for 669 yards and 7 TD’s compared to Clark who had 47 catches for 435 yards and 4 scores while playing with an inferior offense in Tampa.

Boldin’s 65-921-4 outdistanced Stokley’s 2012 numbers, which were 45-544-5.

These stats when netted out (assuming Clark and Stokley will post similar stats in 2013) represent a net loss of 38 yards of offense per game.

Count me among those who believe that Messrs. Flacco, Rice, Pierce, Dickson, Clark, Smith, Stokley and some other “next man up” will find a way to make up for those 38 lost yards per game while supported by a much better defense that will give them more opportunities to do so.

Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye even if it is the right thing to do.

And in the case of Anquan Boldin and the Ravens, it absolutely was. - Tony Lombardi - Russel Street Report


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