The Baltimore Ravens, along with the entire NFL, are beginning their transition from the offseason into the next season. The draft process is concluded, and practices along with other team activities are starting to take place. Players are being conditioned for the season, and systems are being installed, as both new and returning players are being introduced to them. However, with all of this progress towards the next season, one significant question still remains. Where is Anquan Boldin? The former Ravens wide receiver was mentioned constantly for weeks on end as a strong, and even likely candidate to solve the Ravens wide receiver issues. Yet after the explosion in coverage of the topic, the notion that Boldin would return as the savior of the Ravens wide receivers corps seemed to vanish into thin air. What happened?
Despite being linked to Baltimore more often than not this offseason, Boldin has yet to show any real intentions of returning to the city he once called home. Most of the news stories and editorials predicting a probable reunion of Boldin and the Ravens were pure conjecture. However, the idea of the fan favorite wide receiver returning was so popular, it went completely viral. There are really no merits to the claim that Boldin would want to return to Baltimore, other than himself being quoted as saying he would like to retire as a Raven. However, that was before the infamous trade, which may have soured his relationship with the organization. Boldin in 2012 was an integral part of the Ravens Super Bowl run. Despite his clear necessity, the Ravens front office requested that he take a pay cut to ease salary cap tensions. Boldin declined this proposition, and the Baltimore Ravens traded him to the San Francisco 49ers. For many fans, including myself, this was a mistake that the Ravens should never have made. It was entirely unnecessary to trade him, and the Ravens struggled the following season. This betrayal could be a reason that Boldin is reluctant to sign with the team, and is leading him to explore his other options with multiple teams.
If Boldin is in fact not interested in returning to Baltimore, then why hasn’t he signed with another team yet? For a wide receiver who has been a league best for much of his career, he is seemingly drawing little interest. This can be attributed to two main factors. First, his statistics have dropped for two consecutive years. His last 1,000 yards receiving season came in 2014 with the 49ers. In 2015 he dropped down to just under 800 yards, and in 2016 he fell even farther, to mere 584 yards. This combined with the second major factor, his age, are reasons for teams to keep their distance. Boldin is currently 36 years old and will be 37 in October. For an NFL wide receiver, that is quite old. It is only a matter of time before he will be forced out of football entirely, and that time seems to be quickly approaching. He is a gamble for NFL teams. He only provides short-term relief to a strained wide receiver corps, while not being able to guarantee production like he used to do in his earlier days. These factors also may be a turn off for the Ravens.
The Ravens may just not be interested in Boldin at this point. The Ravens had other wide receiver options that they could have added to the roster, but they were either unable to bring them in or were disinterested with the player. There were reports about both Torrey Smith, a former Ravens wideout, and Victor Cruz, the former Giants, salsa dancing receiver, of having mutual interest with the Ravens. However, both of these negotiations fell through, as Smith is now with the Eagles and Cruz with the Bears. The Ravens may just not want Boldin at this point. The team passed up multiple opportunities in the NFL draft to add another receiver, so they must have at least some confidence in their current players. Mike Wallace is returning from a stellar season, and Breshad Perriman is giving the fans some hope he will not turn out to be a complete draft bust.
There have been reports that Boldin will not sign with a team until training camp, but it may be too little too late for him to find an NFL team to sign with, let alone the Ravens. By that time, offenses will already be installed, and wide receivers will have had extensive practice with their quarterbacks and fellow receivers. I would really like to see Boldin sign with the Ravens. He was my favorite receiver for some time, and the Ravens offense seemed to have fallen off since his departure. (Minus the glorious Gary Kubiak 2014 season of course.) However, I am not keeping my hopes up, as I see the possibility of a reunion as very slim at this point. Boldin has not signed with the team yet, and it seems as if he may never. Maybe I am wrong and he will return, but I just don’t see it happening, unfortunately.