anquan boldin2

Just two days ago, I wrote that Anquan Boldin was the bee’s knees during the Super Bowl and throughout the playoffs, and possibly also the cat’s meow. During the championship game he finished with 104 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches, and taking that further, a veteran wideout peaked when it mattered most in the post season.

To review…

  • He averaged 17.3 yards per catch during the playoffs, and 14.2 during the regular season.
  • Throughout his 15 regular-season games there was only one week when he had 100 or more receiving yards. In four playoff games (the equivalent of a quarter of the regular season) he had two 100-yard games.
  • That resulted in an average of 95 yards per game in the playoffs (380 overall), after he set a pace of 61.4 per week during the regular season.
  • Lastly, Boldin’s four post-season touchdowns matched his regular-season total.

Now, I’m writing about Boldin retiring if he’s cut. Ahhh, smells like early February.

Boldin told Erik Kuselias of NBC Sports Radio that if the Ravens choose to cut him to ease one of the crunchiest cap situations in the league, he’ll retire. At 32 years old he’d be only slightly young for such a move, but although his skills are declining, he’s still effective, and he’s still a key possession receiver who perfectly complements Torrey Smith’s downfield burning.

You’re likely wondering why the hell the Ravens would even consider cutting Boldin then, especially after even with that declining speed, he still finished with 921 receiving yards at a less than spectacular but still very productive 61.4 yards per game pace. Welp, the answer to that question can be summarized with the same word that answers most NFL questions in February and March: money.

Boldin is due to be paid $6 million next year. Under somewhat normal circumstances, that would be a reasonable rate for a receiver of his caliber. But there’s the matter of Joe Flacco’s contract that you may have heard about. Remember that time he was named the Super Bowl MVP and joined Joe Montana as the only quarterback to throw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions during the playoffs? Yeah, well he’s a pending free agent, and he wants to be the richest quarterback in league history.

That will cost the Ravens $20 million annually, and to work that contract out they may have to first use the franchise tag at a cost of $14.6 million. So before they even consider signing a long list of other key free agents (Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, Dennis Pitta, Ed Dickson, Arthur Jones, Cary Williams), the Ravens will be as much as $5 million over the salary cap, as Aaron Wilson noted last month. If Flacco gets tagged, that number will rise to about $20 million, meaning some creative contract restructuring through extensions will have to take place.

Due to the sheer volume of pending Raven UFAs and RFAs, Albert Breer quite accurately described the offseason changes the champs will endure with his use of “seismic” as an adjective, as 10 players account for $69 million in cap space.

So yes, welcome to yet another reminder of the NFL’s cold offseason realities. If we’re ranking Super Bowl MVP candidates, there was a tie at the top between Flacco and Jacoby Jones, and then Boldin was second. It’s possible he could go from that perch, to retired.