Free agent snapshot: Anquan Boldin
|01.27.14 at 1:36 pm ET|
When free agency begins in early March, there are a handful of players across the league who could appeal to New England. Over the next two weeks — with the understanding that the status of these players could change because of the franchise or transition tag — we’ll look at 10 possibilities for the Patriots to consider. We have to stress that these guys aren’t necessarily considered the elite of the free agent class — instead, they are players we think would be a good fit in New England. We kick off the series with wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Position: Wide receiver
Age: 33 (will turn 34 on Oct. 3)
Weight: 223 pounds
The skinny: The veteran is likely near the end of a very impressive career, but clearly still has something left in the tank, as evidenced by the 85 catches for 1,179 receiving yards and seven touchdowns he had last year with San Francisco. He’s consistent (he’s never had fewer than 56 catches in a season), durable (he’s never played fewer than 14 games a season over the last five years) and has an excellent locker room reputation (witness this story that surfaced months after he joined the Niners). The idea of Boldin New England is something we pushed for last year, and things haven’t changed.
By the numbers: Per ESPN Stats & Information, Boldin has distinguished himself as an elite playoff performer: since he entered the league in 2003, Boldin’s four 100-plus yard receiving games are tied for first in the league during that span. His 1,033 receiving yards are second most and his eight touchdowns fourth most in that stretch.
Why it would work: Boldin is a highly-regarded veteran who would serve as something of a guiding presence for some of New England’s pass catchers. One of the toughest guys in the league — he broke his face a few years ago and was back in the lineup three weeks later — he wouldn’t make the Patriots receiving corps any younger, but he could serve as a leader for a relatively younger group in need of a positive role model. The Patriots would be a team that would be considered to be in the mix for a Super Bowl, which would allow Boldin to (presumably) end his career on an up note. (For what it’s worth, Boldin was a possibility for the Patriots as a free agent in 2010, but ended up going to the Ravens.)
Why it might not work: Money. The Patriots need to create some financial flexibility for themselves between now and the start of the new league year in March, and even if they’re able to do that, they still might not be inclined to spend on a veteran wide receiver, preferring instead to put their financial resources toward landing a tight end of defensive tackle, two other areas of need this offseason. It also sounds like Boldin grew very comfortable with the Niners in his first season in San Francisco — in the wake of the loss to the Seahawks in the NFC title game, he tweeted, “Thank you 49ers fans for embracing my family and I during our first year in San Francisco. Your support this year was amazing.” First year. And honestly, the Niners would be crazy if they somehow didn’t go strong to try to retain him for 2014.
Quote: “Anquan Boldin is a valuable, valuable player and every player should aspire and practice and play the game of football like Anquan Boldin. … Comes to work, goes home, comes back to work and kicks ass.” — Niners coach Jim Harbaugh on Boldin
Our take: From this viewpoint, Boldin would be a terrific addition to a Patriots offense that needs a world-class veteran presence who could serve as something of a role model for the younger receivers. It seems like a bit of a longshot right now, but if the Patriots could somehow find a way to make the cash work, it would make sense to try and get him on a two-year deal — nothing more — for relatively short money.