NFL Nation: Boldin 09

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Eagles' move to acquire left tackle Jason Peters from the Bills could make Philadelphia a less likely destination for Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin.

Based on likely terms, completing the trade would leave the Eagles with only one first-round choice and no choice in the fourth round. The Cardinals could be seeking as much as a first- and third-round choice for Boldin, although they have not said so publicly.

Working strictly off the draft chart, the Bills would surge into fourth place among teams with the most firepower in terms of tradeable draft capital. The Lions, Rams and Broncos comprise the top three. However, the trading chart might be overvaluing the top few selections.

Still, the Bills would become one of three teams with an extra first-round choice in 2009. The Lions and Broncos already hold two first-round picks. The Browns, Dolphins and Giants each have two second-round choices. The Patriots have three. Kansas City, Washington, San Diego, New Orleans and Tampa Bay do not have second-round picks in 2009.

Dallas, Chicago and Carolina do not have first-round choices this year. Baltimore, reportedly a suitor for Boldin, ranks 23rd in terms of tradeable draft capital, based on the value chart.

The Ravens have six choices, one in every round but the seventh. The Giants, who are also in the market for a receiver, have an extra pick in each of the second, third and fifth rounds. The extra third-rounder, 100th overall, is a compensatory choice and therefore not tradeable.

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.

 
  Paul Spinelli/Getty Images
  Anquan Boldin would be a huge addition to the Baltimore offense.

With that in mind, here are the pros and cons for the Ravens in their pursuit of Boldin:

Pros

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.

Cons

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?

You decide.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A healthy percentage of questions relating to Anquan Boldin focus on what the Cardinals might want in return for him.

The ESPN video atop this blog entry provides one answer: first- and third-round draft choices or the equivalent, although the Cardinals appear to be doing more listening than asking at this point in the process.

  2008: Best of Anquan Boldin
  NFL.com Video
  Check out the top highlights of Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin from 2008.

The steep projected asking price reflects the Cardinals' flexibility. There's no rush for the team to make a move because Boldin has two years remaining on his contract. The deal averages about $5.6 million per season while paying $2.75 million to Boldin in 2009 and $3 million to him in 2010. Teammate Larry Fitzgerald is earning $10 million per season on a deal set to expire after the 2011 season.

The Cardinals need to protect their long-term interests here. Their deal with Fitzgerald prevents them from naming him their franchise player after the 2011 season.

If the Cardinals traded Boldin, they could conceivably be without both starting receivers four seasons from now. They will almost certainly be without Boldin at that point, anyway, because they probably will not pay him close to what Fitzgerald is making. So why not get value for him before he leaves? That is one way to look at the situation.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Something smells familiar around here. After all, it wasn't too long ago when an NFL team put a prominent player on the trading block and suddenly the NFC North was awash in rumors?

And for good reason, as it turns out. Exactly two weeks ago, Denver shipped quarterback Jay Cutler to Chicago after considering an offer from Detroit and speaking briefly to Minnesota early in the process. Based on the tone of letters in my mailbag, we're abuzz with the possibility that a Black and Blue team could grab receiver Anquan Boldin from Arizona.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt confirmed Wednesday the Cardinals will listen to offers for Boldin, who wants a contract that Arizona doesn't seem willing to offer. The Bears can still count receiver among their personnel needs, and Minnesota aggressively pursued free agent T.J. Houshmandzadeh earlier this offseason.

I won't entirely rule out the possibility of Boldin joining Cutler in the NFC North, but there seems to be more circumstances working against it than there are in favor. Among them:

 
  Paul Spinelli/Getty Images
  There are NFC North teams that would love to have Anquan Boldin but do not seem to have the necessary assets to trade for him.
  1. There haven't been too many estimates as to the Cardinals' asking price, but the Bears already coughed up three valuable draft choices in the Cutler deal. They don't have a first- or third-round pick to trade this year, and they don't own a first-rounder in 2010. (They do have a third-round pick this season, but it was a compensatory award and thus not eligible to be traded.) The Bears could include the No. 49 overall pick this year, but that is their only immediate ammunition and probably isn't enough.
  2. The Vikings gutted their draft last year to acquire defensive end Jared Allen, and vice president Rick Spielman has spoken multiple times about the dangers of diminishing two consecutive drafts. It's true that the Vikings heavily pursued Houshmandzadeh, but he wouldn't have cost any draft choices. That courtship isn't necessarily an indication that the Vikings are strongly committed to upgrading their receiving corps. They considered the Houshmandzadeh opportunity to be unique in several ways. I don't doubt Boldin would help their offense and be a strong complement to Bernard Berrian, but I'm not sure it's enough of a need to give up multiple draft picks to fill. Sidney Rice, a second-round pick in 2007, should be ready to take the next step.
  3. The Lions, if they have any interest, are hampered by the same factors that conspired against them in the Cutler sweepstakes. They own eight draft picks, but that includes the poisonous No. 1 overall choice. The Cardinals, after all, won't want their compensation to earn more than Boldin is asking for. The Lions have enough assets to get a deal done, but their across-the-board holes should preclude them from dedicating a hunk of their draft toward acquiring one receiver.
  4. To be clear, it's without malice that I leave Green Bay out of this discussion. I think most of us would agree the Packers have a deep-enough receiving corps to allow them to sit this one out and focus on filling holes in other areas.

I can't totally rule out the possibility of an NFC North team getting involved here, but it's far from the slam dunk we saw in the Cutler discussions.

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

The Arizona Cardinals are now willing to listen to trade offers for wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Could he end up in the AFC West? Let's take a look because there are some potential fits:

Denver

The Broncos are one of the teams in the league most equipped to acquire Boldin. As a result of the Jay Cutler trade to Chicago earlier this month, the Broncos have five picks in the first 84 picks. Denver has two picks in the first and the third rounds. While the Broncos could make this trade without any problems, the team has greater needs. But there could be a spot for Boldin. Considering Brandon Marshall is coming off a hip injury and could face an extended NFL suspension for off-field issues, there could be a need. Also, there has been talk that Eddie Royal could be used as a slot receiver the way new Denver coach Josh McDaniels used Wes Welker when he was the offensive coordinator in New England. Boldin would take pressure off new quarterback Kyle Orton. There are plenty of reasons why this makes sense but I'm not sure Denver wants to invest so much in a receiver.

Kansas City

There is a natural connection here. New Kansas City coach Todd Haley was Arizona's offensive coordinator. Haley and Boldin had a good connection in Arizona despite their memorable shouting match on the sideline of the NFC championship game in January. The Chiefs could use Boldin but not at the cost it will take to get him. The Chiefs don't have a second-round pick and it may not be prudent for the team to trade its other top picks. The Chiefs need help at several positions and receiver isn't one of their biggest needs.

Oakland

The Raiders have a big need for a receiver and Boldin would qualify as a major upgrade in Oakland. If the Cardinals were to take the No. 7 pick for Boldin, it may be worth Oakland's while to grab this established veteran while not mortgaging its draft. This could be a fit.

San Diego

The Chargers are in good shape at receiver. It could use a No. 3 receiver or a developmental receiver but it wouldn't make sense for San Diego, which doesn't have a second-round pick, to add at a position where it would be a luxury addition.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

In talking about the best possible fits for on-the-market receiver Anquan Boldin, the Miami Dolphins were at the top of Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson's list.

The New York Jets weren't far behind.

Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters Wednesday they will consider offers for Boldin before the draft.

There's a "Help Wanted" sign hanging outside the Jets' headquarters. They needed to upgrade their receiving corps even before Laveranues Coles negotiated his way off the team.

The Jets simply don't have weapons on their roster to threaten opposing defensive backs like the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills can.

"Boldin certainly seems like a Rex Ryan-type of guy, tough as nails, low-risk, a glorified possession receiver, great after-the-catch skills," Williamson said. "With a really suspect quarterback situation, he could quickly become your quarterback's best friend."

In only 12 games last year, Boldin had 89 receptions for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Jets have the sure-handed Jerricho Cotchery, who posted a team-leading 71 receptions for 858 yards and five touchdowns. Chansi Stuckey is their only returning wide receiver who caught a touchdown last year. Stuckey scored three.

"Cotchery is a No. 2 receiver," Williamson said. "But you certainly could do a lot worse than having Cotchery as your No. 2."

To complete a Boldin deal, the Jets might have to part with their 17th overall draft choice. They hold only six picks in the entire draft.

"The 17th pick is a little steep, but there's so many teams right now that need receivers," Williamson said.

Williamson then rattled off a list that included the Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.

"All those teams are receiver-starved," Williamson said. "All those guys need starting-caliber receivers. You'll have plenty of people interested in [Plaxico] Burress if he's cleared and Braylon Edwards and Chad Johnson, if he hits the market.

"But of all those guys you mention, Edwards maybe is the only who's more attractive than Boldin and that's kind of a coin flip, depending on what you're looking for."

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals public declaration that they will accept trade offers for Anquan Boldin could have far-reaching consequences for Arizona and the 2009 NFL draft.

While Arizona maintains that it wants to re-sign Boldin if possible, Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. told me he thinks the Cardinals could come out ahead by dealing the Pro Bowl receiver.

Williamson: "I like Boldin. I think he is a heckuva receiver. There are probably 10-12 guys who are better players at the position, but I'm not so sure that he is a No. 1. I don't throw that term around. There are not many in the league and they have one already. Larry is obviously a No. 1. I'm not sure Boldin doesn't benefit from him quite a bit. Some studies have shown that Boldin doesn't do as well against top-flight corners.

"That is not to detract from what he does. His toughness, run-after-the-catch ability and great hands would make him a welcome addition to any offense. There will be teams banging at the door. But for Arizona, if you can get a good pick in return, it makes sense. Steve Breaston looks good. They have possibly the best receiver in the league. The guys running that offense, Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grim, they are hard-core Steeler disciples. If you can use Boldin to get you picks that will yield you a running game, you might be better in the long haul. Maybe you get a back and a left tackle or whatever to get more physical, to be able to grind teams out.

"This staff inherited the high-flying attack and while I'm sure they are not unhappy with that, they want to grind people out."

Williamson also thought the Cardinals could use an extra pick to land Alex Mack or a center in the second round, although Whisenhunt has said he likes Lyle Sendlein.

Back in a minute with thoughts on which teams could be in the market for Boldin.

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