Could Boldin return to Baltimore?

Could Boldin return to Baltimore?
January 23, 2014, 1:00 pm
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Ravens have questions on offense

Dec 23, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) carries the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the third quarter of the final regular season game at Candlestick Park. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-24.

(Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

The Ravens say one of their biggest needs heading into 2014 is a possession receiver. Anquan Boldin is set to be a free agent. Might there be a reunion?

The Ravens haven't publicly regretted trading Boldin to the 49ers last spring, contending that the money saved via that trade helped shore up the defense. But it proved to be a disastrous move, one of the worst deals in team history. Boldin went on to a 1,000-yard season for the 49ers, and the Ravens passing game sputtered without Boldin, especially after the Ravens also lost tight end Dennis Pitta for most of the season.

At the annual 'State of the Ravens' news conference earlier this month, general manager Ozzie Newsome said one of the team's biggest offseason needs is "a receiver – whether it’s a tight end or a wide receiver – that can make a third-and-7, third-and-8 catch and run after the catch."

Boldin seems to fit the bill. But will he fit the budget? And will he even hit the market?

The Ravens expect to be tight up against the cap again, and Boldin made $6 million for the 49ers last season -- $2 million more than the Ravens wanted to pay him; that difference is what ultimately led to the trade.

Boldin is something of an anomaly: At a position where youth, height and speed rule the day, Boldin continues to excel at age 33, with average height (6-1) and speed but uncommon toughness and ability. Boldin had 85 catches for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns for the 49ers this season.

Boldin has hinted that he'd like to stay in San Francisco.

After the 49ers lost in the NFC Championship Game, Boldin tweeted:

Sounds as if he's ready for a second year there. So, too, are 49ers coaches, who named Boldin the team's Bill Walsh Award winner as the team's most valuable player.

Then again, Boldin last year famously said he would retire before playing for any team other than the Ravens, and that didn't happen. So if the money is right, and the 49ers don't make a suitable offer, he could be on the market.

But don't expect him to land in Baltimore.

Newsome isn't long on sentiment. The Ravens weren't willing to pay Boldin $6 million last year, and it's unlikely they are willing to pay him that much given that he's now a year older. Boldin's only chance to return would be if he hits the free agent market and finds it soft, which is possible with a deep receiver draft. Still, numbers don't lie, and there are at least 1,179 reasons why Boldin should draw a nice payday somewhere.

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