The Ravens are Screwed

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Posted by bernreuther on March 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm

The title is a slight exaggeration, of course, and probably inaccurate because Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta know what they’re doing when building a roster, but I’m still less than optimistic about the future of the Baltimore Ravens, especially now that it looks like they may end up losing Anquan Boldin.

Personnel isn’t my gig, and maybe I’m in the minority here, but I think Anquan Boldin is one of the most underrated players in the game. I believe I’ve seen (but can’t currently find a link to support so maybe my claim is unfounded) that at the time of his acquisition by Baltimore, he had the highest yards per pass attempt of any receiver in history. I never really understood why Arizona let him walk when they had both the cap space and a glaring need for receivers (as we have seen every year since Warner retired). But even if that statistic is wrong, all you have to do is watch the Ravens play to know that he is a very important piece of their offense. He’s not as versatile as Ray Rice, but he bails Flacco out more often than most realize. ┬áHe runs great routes, has great hands, and is as reliable as they come. Even with diminished foot speed, he’s a handful, and he’s open even when he’s covered because of his size and physicality. He’s a great safety net.

Basically, in my opinion he’s responsible for a lot of Flacco’s success, and consequently, also his giant contract.

And if the Ravens let him go instead of paying him a perfectly reasonable* salary, they could be looking at a seriously poor return on their quarterback investment. Especially in a few years when the cap hits start to get ridiculous (in 2016, his cap hit appears that it will be $29 million!). Because in those years, coincidentally, Ray Rice will probably start to slow down a bit too. And if those two things both happen, you’re going to end up looking at a very highly paid QB that has to do an awful lot more by himself than he has ever had to do. And in 2016, you may very well be looking at a cap hit that is crippling a team that suddenly doesn’t have anything even resembling an elite offense.

*- I understand the numbers from their point of view, and wholeheartedly agree that it’s always better to let someone go too early than too late, especially at that age. And every million counts. 6 isn’t a lot for a known quantity, though, even if it’s a slight inflation of his real value. They’re right to hope to lower the figure; but in my opinion paying him $6m is a better option than not having him at all.

I don’t like Flacco’s contract or think he’s worth it, but there wasn’t much of an alternative for the Ravens. In the end it’ll only be a few million dollars a year different, and they’re creative and smart enough to figure out ways to make that up elsewhere.

But Anquan Boldin shouldn’t be one of the guys they cast aside so save that cash. He’s more important than most people realize.

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