Moving on without Anquan Boldin
The business side of football is not a forgiving one. The Ravens had to make a tough decision and move on without star wide out, Anquan Boldin. I’m not really shocked by this move, nor am I shocked by the outrage coming from fans through social media either. Boldin is a fan favorite who is reliable, hard-nosed, strong as any possession receiver there is in the game. He’s also going to be 33 years old and was on the books to make more money ($7.5 million cap hit) than many receivers who are much younger, with much better numbers last season.
The move shouldn’t come as a surprise though. Fans were told during the Ravens State of the Team Address, that restructuring contracts to retain players was not in the cards. The Ravens want to get younger, clear out some cap space, and reload for the long haul. Trying to repeat as champs with the same group of guys was never an option. Doesn’t mean they can’t repeat however. The Ravens want to win for a long time. Not put all of their eggs into next year’s basket and place themselves in “cap hell.” So you had to think losing Boldin was going to come eventually.
What’s done is done, pending Boldin’s return to the States and passing a physical for the 49ers, which traded a 6th round draft pick to acquire the three-time Pro Bowl wideout.
No time to dwell. What is the Ravens current situation, and what does the wide receiver landscape look like from here?
For starters, the Ravens saved $6 million in cap space. Last night they also tendered restricted free agents Dennis Pitta, Arthur Jones, and Ed Dickson which put roughly $5.3 million back on the books.
As of 9:30 a.m. 3/12, The Ravens have $13.21 million in cap space, minus an estimated $3.93 million for draft picks. Call it $9.28 million in usable cap space.
So what could the receiving corps look like for 2013? “Next man up” seems to be the buzz words around these parts for the better part of a calendar year. Does it still apply and do the Ravens count on Tandon Doss? If you remember, Doss was hand picked by Joe Flacco after he scouted and threw passes with six different receivers selected by Eric DeCosta prior to the lockout of 2011. The two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection hasn’t seen much action, and the last memories we have of him are dropping a few catchable balls in the Colts playoff game. Doss was targeted 18 times this season with seven catches for 128 yards and one TD. That one TD came in the Houston debacle, but was actually a well-designed play. A jailbreak WR screen.
Tandon Doss is 6’2”, 207 lbs. Anquan Boldin is 6’1”, 220 lbs. If Doss can pack on 10 or 15 pounds of muscle this off-season (and find some stick-um for his hands) he could be Boldin 2.0, at least according to his scouting report. “Gives up his body over the middle. Tough to bring down. Plays inside and outside. Understands how to exploit zone coverage.”
Doss has had plenty of time to learn the nuances of the pro game. Practice at pro game speed. Learn the tendencies of defensive backs he’ll play against in the NFL. Enough watching already. It’s time to see what the Hoosier can do and see how serious he takes this offseason.
Not a Tandon Doss fan? Maybe you want to go the rout of free agent receivers. Let’s go down the list.
Wes Welker – Too expensive, too old.
Mike Wallace – Overrated, you’ll over pay. First half of 2011 he had 800 receiving yards. Second half of 2011 he had 393. The drop off continued last year when he failed to crack 1,000 yards (836). He’s rumored to be going to the Dolphins anyway.
Greg Jennings – He missed three games in 2011, eight games in 2012. Coming into 2012 he had a career 15.8 YPC. That dropped off severely as Jennings posted 10.2 YPC last season. He also will be 30 years old next year. Not really what we’re looking for as he’s made a living off being a deep threat. We need a possession receiver.
Danny Amendola – Fits a need, a slot guy who goes over the middle. Good hands. Young. But durability is an issue. Also, reports are the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in Amendola’s services. The Eagles have $24.96 million in usable cap space, versus the Ravens $9.28 million. Good luck winning that bidding war.
Austin Collie – With the tight cap situation, the Ravens could roll the dice here and sign Collie cheap. He showed promise in 2009 when he was on pace for 100 catches, 1,000 yards, and had 8 touchdowns when thumb surgery sidelined him after just 9 games (I know Manning was his QB then. But didn’t Joe Flacco just win a Super Bowl?). Collie missed about all of 2012 with a ruptured patella tendon. He also has had four concussions, so again, durability issues. You could get just as much out of him as Amendola for about ¾ the cost though. Low-risk, high reward.
It only gets uglier from there though. Jerome Simpson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Randy Moss, Steve Breston, Early Doucet, Plaxico Burress, Josh Cribbs, Braylon Edwards.
Possible that the Ravens draft a WR at some point this year, but I wouldn’t bet on them trading up to get the speedster Tayvon Austin in the first round. Again, not the style of WR you need to replace what Boldin does. The best options are to give Doss a shot, Amendola, or Collie.
At the same time, the Ravens have other pressing needs. I strongly believe that a deal with Ellerbe, and the left tackle position needs to be addressed before we start looking outside of the Ravens roster for Boldin’s replacement. I wouldn’t mind seeing us take a flier on Collie though over Amendola. He’s a BYU grad, like Dennis Pitta. Let Collie and Doss fight it out for the slot role. Camp competition could be good for both of these young men.
With the acquisition of the 49ers 6th round draft pick, It brings the Ravens total up to 12 picks. Maybe Ozzie and the gang have an ace up their sleeve and plan to make some kind of trade and acquire someone not listed here.
As this post goes up, David Reed has agreed to a contract, according to The Sun. Details not released yet, but is said to be two years and a 2013 cap hit under the $1.32 million tender they could have offered him, with a $500k signing bonus. Before people get all bent out of shape this morning, David Reed is not replacing Anquan Boldin! (Already seeing the “sign David Reed but not Boldin…smh” Tweets and Facebook posts). David Reed is on special teams, a kick return option, even though he has WR attached to his name.
Ed Reed has hired an agent. Having representation means he will likely listen to offers from other teams once 4 p.m. comes around. If the 49ers lose safety Dashon Goldson, which is likely, Adam Schefter from ESPN reports that, “some around the league expecting them to make a push for free-agent S Ed Reed.”
The team hopes to have an agreement in place with Dannell Ellerbe prior to the 4:00 p.m. deadline today. Stay tuned.
Keep calm and trust Ozzie.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]