Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/6/13
Anquan-boldin-tackled
Joe Flacco won the MVP award for Super Bowl XLVII, but Anquan Boldin was the hero who made it happen. Boldin caught six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown to help the Ravens win the big game. But even with his impressive contributions, the reliable receiver seems unlikely to return to Baltimore next season. The Ravens’ obligations for next year put them $5 million over the salary cap, and that’s even before Flacco gets his pricey new deal. So, some cuts will have to be made, and the 32-year-old Boldin’s $7.5 million salary seems like a prime candidate. Boldin’s possible exile from Baltimore opens the door for several possibilities for the three-time Pro Bowler, and that could lead him to the exact place he nearly ended up three seasons ago. When the Arizona Cardinals were shopping Boldin around during the 2010 offseason, the Ravens immediately emerged as a frontrunner, but the New England Patriots quietly attempted a deal of their own. The Ravens ended up getting Boldin with a lucrative three-year extension, while the Patriots only wanted Boldin as a one-year rental of sorts with the incentive of earning a long-term deal. Although the Patriots missed their chance three years ago, adding the elusive receiver is once again a possibility, and one they should seriously consider. Sure, working out a deal with Wes Welker might seem like more of a priority, but with a dearth of options at receiver, the Patriots would be smart to entertain Boldin as either an additional or alternative choice. At 32, Boldin isn’t quite the same receiver the Patriots attempted to acquire in 2010. He’s lost a step already and, given his physical style of play, is a battered and bruised 10-year veteran. But at his older age, Boldin also won’t cost a mint — maybe half of his current $7.5 million salary — and will provide production. Boldin is also as reliable a receiver as there is the NFL right now. As he proved throughout the postseason, he performs his best in the biggest moments — something the Patriots have lacked from a receiver in recent years. Questions will arise about Boldin’s age, durability and viability in Josh McDaniels‘ offense. There is also no guarantee that the Ravens will let go of the prized wideout. So, the Patriots may not even get a crack at him. But if he does become available, Bill Belichick and company should give him a long, hard look. Help is needed on the outside, and if the team’s goal truly is to win another Super Bowl title, then Boldin could be just the piece Tom Brady needs to put this offense over the top. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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