- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
The decision makers in Owings Mills, Md., have a lot to consider now that the Arizona Cardinals put Anquan Boldin on the trading block a week before the NFL draft. The Baltimore Ravens are one of several teams interested in the Pro Bowl receiver.
With that in mind, here are the pros and cons for the Ravens in their pursuit of Boldin:
1. Receiver is an area of need
There would be no interest here unless there was a hole to fill at receiver. Baltimore got by last year with just two productive receivers in Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton. Mason is tough and very consistent, but he isn't a game-breaker. Clayton has some of those qualities, but he isn't consistent. The Ravens need a complete package at receiver with both qualities, and Boldin throughout his career has been that type of player.
2. Boldin makes QB Joe Flacco better
Baltimore has found its franchise quarterback for the first time in its history. Therefore, everything the Ravens do offensively should be geared toward making Flacco better. Boldin would certainly do the trick. The Ravens were not able to use all of Flacco's physical tools last year because they didn't have the proper personnel. Adding significant talent to Flacco's arsenal would only help speed up his learning curve.
3. It closes the gap with Pittsburgh
The Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers played three very close games last year. Baltimore was 0-3, but the Ravens were just a few plays away in every game against their biggest rival. The acquisition of Boldin may provide a shift in power toward the Ravens in the AFC North. At the very least, it would close the gap between these two teams. With Boldin, Baltimore would instantly have one of the top receivers in the division.
1. Boldin wants a huge extension
Although it's easy to get enamored with Boldin, many lose sight that this dispute is all about money. Boldin wants to leave a Super Bowl contender with good chemistry because he wants to get paid in the range of $9 million per season. And he wants his money now, so the same team to acquire Boldin will get the same stern contract demands. The Ravens are already under pressure to come up with a huge deal for Pro Bowl defender Terrell Suggs -- one that likely exceeds the $51.175 million contract for Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison. Baltimore has been pretty cautious with its money this offseason. Therefore, it's hard to envision the Ravens doling out approximately $100 million in contracts for two players by the start of the regular season.
2. Ravens don't have many draft picks
Baltimore has just a half-dozen picks in next week's NFL draft. That means there is a good chance other suitors could outbid the Ravens. For instance, the normal asking price for a top-notch receiver is a first- and a third-round pick. If more than one team is willing to give that up for Boldin, the price tag would raise even higher. Perhaps Arizona could then asks for a third draft pick or a player to be added to the equation. Do the Ravens want to give up half their 2009 draft for Boldin? For an organization which covets its draft picks, this isn't an ideal scenario.
3. Plenty of WRs in the draft
As luck would have it, there are plenty of quality receivers in this year's NFL draft. It would be much cheaper to spend a late first-round pick on a receiving prospects such as Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin, etc. versus the approximately $9 million per season on Boldin. Sure, the Ravens would be choosing an unproven player in the draft. But with Baltimore's solid track record of scouting players, it would be a calculated risk.
Do the pros outweigh the cons, Raven fans?