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Grading The Deal: Ravens Get Boldin From Cardinals
Authored by Andrew Perna - 6th March, 2010 - 10:40 pm

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Opening Day Quarterback Starters
The NFL is living in a golden age of quarterbacks where the one common denominator of winning teams is a strong passing game.

On the first day of free agency, the biggest splash was made via trade as the Baltimore Ravens acquired wide receiver Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a third and fourth-round pick.

The Ravens, who promptly inked Boldin to a three-year contract extension, will also receive a fifth-rounder as part of the agreement.

Giving up a third and fourth rounder for Boldin is a good deal for Baltimore, especially with the three-year, $25 million extension immediately put in place. The Ravens will now have the receiver under contract through the 2013 season and owe him a total of $28 million, which is believed to include $10 million in guaranteed money.

That?s not a bad price for a guy that could be among the league leaders in most receiving categories if healthy.

Baltimore has a reputation as a running team, but the addition of Boldin will allow them to become even more dynamic on offense. The Ravens ranked 18th in passing yards per game last season, while placing fifth in rushing yards per contest.

Joe Flacco has the arm needed for an above-average passing attack and now he has the right kind of receiver to take Baltimore?s offense to the next level.

Derrick Mason had more than 1,000 yards last season, but running back Ray Rice led the club in receptions with 78 in 2009.

Boldin has a history of injuries, which, if you look at the glass as half full, makes his production even more impressive. He has played all 16 games just twice in seven NFL seasons, but has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark five times.

For his career, Boldin has averaged 84 catches for 1,074 yards and six touchdowns, which includes his 2004 numbers (56 receptions for 623 yards and one score in 10 games).

It?s also worth noting that Boldin has spent his career behind Larry Fitzgerald on the depth chart. On a normal team his numbers would have suffered severely, but Arizona?s aerial attack allowed Boldin to light up the scoreboard nearly as much as his dreadlocked former teammate.

I could see Boldin?s numbers decreasing slightly, thanks to a different offensive game plan and the ability of Rice to catch out of the backfield. However, he?ll be the de facto lead receiver and should be invigorated by the change of scenery.

Grade for Ravens: A-

He has been positioning himself for a trade since 2008 and the drama appears to have gone on much longer than just 18 months. The Cardinals advanced all the way to the Super Bowl, and damn near won, despite the obvious (no matter what they say) distraction. It?s too bad we won?t get the chance to see how Kurt Warner would have played without Boldin (good and bad).

Arizona didn?t like the offers they received for Boldin around this time last year, so they held onto the receiver for another year. It doesn?t appear as though the Ravens went above-and-beyond what teams were offering last spring, but with labor uncertainty and a pseudo rebuilding project the Cardinals had to swing a deal sooner than later.

If Warner hadn?t retired, I think we may have seen Arizona either hold onto Boldin or at the very least hold out for a higher package of picks. There really is no telling how Matt Leinart will fare and they aren?t exactly heading into the 2010 season on an upswing, having also lost Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby on defense.

In a normal offseason, the Cardinals (regardless of their status as an improving or declining team) would likely have been criticized for not getting enough for Boldin, injury concerns be damned.

However, with teams appearing conservative despite an uncapped season, taking on the financial expectations of two mid-draft picks isn?t too bad of a trade-off in exchange for a player that wasn?t happy in Arizona and certainly wasn?t going to sign an extension given the front office?s unwillingness to give Boldin the kind of money he wanted.

Grade for Cardinals: B+

The Cardinals will be fine, with Fitzgerald still leading the pack and Steve Breaston and Early Doucet more-than-capable of filling Boldin?s shoes. With his injury history, Breaston is already accustomed to doing so.

Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: APerna7.