“What if…” the Ravens never traded Anquan Boldin?
A lot of Ravens fans, and even a few players on the team were disappointed with the trading of Anquan Boldin, and understandably so. Even at the age of 32, Boldin was a big-time threat during the Ravens 2012 playoff run. He brought in 22 receptions for 380 yards and four touchdowns over the team’s four playoff games. He was a clutch, go-to guy that Joe could count on to move the chains and to go up over defenders in the red zone.
When a wide receiver continues to play into his thirties, the questions about whether or not his body can hold up for another season, or if he’s going to lose a step are going to start pouring in. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what Boldin did over the next two seasons after being traded, at the ages of 33, and 34…
In 2013, his first year with his new team, Boldin put up 85 catches for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns. Now I know you don’t need me to tell you that those are the stats of a receiver that still has gas in the tank… But let’s continue…
In 2014, Boldin put another 1,000-yard campaign in the books, hauling in 83 receptions for 1,062 yards and five touchdowns. At this point, Boldin had two back-to-back seasons of productivity since being traded away from the Ravens. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco post a career-worst 22 interceptions in 2013, along with his second-worst completion percentage to date at 59.0%. It wasn’t until 2014 that Joe got back on track. Interestingly enough, the same year he was given a physical no.1 receiver in Steve Smith, Sr.
Speaking of Agent 89, I think it’s reasonable to say that if Boldin had remained on the team for the 2014 season, Steve Smith might’ve never been signed. They would’ve already had their veteran guy in Boldin. To be fair, if there was something positive that came of Anquan Boldin being traded after the 2012 season, it was that we likely got a fan-favorite in Steve Smith, Sr. out of it season after. But the two seasons of strong play out of Boldin following his departure are always going to leave “what could have been” scenarios in the minds of Ravens fans.
It’s hard to imagine a single player would change the outcome of entire seasons, but football is a game of inches. Maybe Boldin was just the clutch receiver we were missing in all those painfully close, one-score games in 2013. Maybe he could’ve moved the chains on crucial third-downs, or scored the much needed touchdown in game-breaking situations. While we’ll never know for sure, I think it’s pretty safe to say that letting Boldin go before he was running on empty, for a sixth-round draft pick, was a mistake.