Remember Anquan Boldin Wanted To Retire A Raven? Maybe He Still Can
Remember this statement from Anquan Boldin four years ago?
"I think for me — I know for me — Baltimore is the only place I want to play," he told ProFootballTalk.com. "It's the last place that I will play. For me, I'll retire a Raven, I'm not putting on any other uniform. We have a saying, once a Raven, always a Raven, and I'll always be a Raven."
It didn't turn out that way because the Ravens ended up trading Boldin, who reportedly wouldn't take a pay cut in 2013, in a cap-saving move to the San Francisco 49ers, where he played for three years. Last season, he was a Detroit Lion.
But maybe retiring a Raven could still be in the cards. According to ESPN, the future Hall of Fame candidate will return for a 15th NFL season after briefly considering retirement this offseason.
Now the question is where?
Indeed, it would be "cool." But that's as far as the idea has gone. Right now,* *it's just a dream for those who fell in love with Boldin when he helped lead the Ravens to Super Bowl glory for the second time in 2012. There have been zero reports linking him back to Baltimore.
On the surface, a reunion could make sense. The Ravens need a possession receiver to help replace Steve Smith Sr., who ironically, helped fill the Boldin void.
At 36, Boldin showed he's still productive. He led the Lions with eight touchdowns last season and finished second on the team with 67 catches for 584 yards while playing in the slot as the No. 3 receiver.
One person who would seem open to the idea (if it makes football and financial sense) is Owner Steve Bisciotti. Four years after the trade, Bisciotti said, unprompted, at the season-review press conference last month that it was one of the toughest offseason decisions he's ever been a part of and he still thinks about it.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec and Fansided's Joe Schiller both see Boldin as a strong fit.
"Boldin, 36, still possesses qualities that the Ravens lack at wide receiver," Zrebiec wrote. "He makes contested catches, is productive in the red zone and on third down and he's a physical blocker. Joe Flacco trusts him, too."
"The Ravens have been looking for a possession receiver since they traded away Boldin," added Schiller. "He knows how to the find the sticks and is very good at catching the football. Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman are more of speedy deep threats. The closest thing the Ravens have to a possession receiver is Dennis Pitta and he cannot do it all. It may only be a one or two-year deal but it is still worth it to take a chance and try to bring him back."
Fans are also wondering about the possibility of free-agent wide receiver Kamar Aiken returning. There's little talk about him, but here's what Zrebiec has heard:
Ozzie Newsome Creating More Cap Space With Two Moves. Ravens Close To Another Signing?
Per the NFL transaction wire, the Ravens withdrew the restricted free-agent tenders extended to defensive backs Marqueston Huff and Jumal Rolle. Both players are now free agents and can sign with any team. They could also return at a cheaper price.
By rescinding the original round tenders, the Ravens opened up $3.4 million in cap space, but after Rule 51 is applied, it works out to be $2.5 million, according to Russell Street Report's Brian McFarland.
"Are Ravens close to another signing?" asked ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
Many have thought the Ravens are making cap room to sign cornerback Morris Claiborne, who has been linked to Baltimore for several days. CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported Monday that several teams believe Claiborne will end up taking the Ravens' offer.
Hensley himself wondered if the two moves were a sign that Claiborne had made his decision, but that doesn't look to be the case.
"Nothing imminent with Ravens and CB Morris Claiborne," Hensley tweeted. "Sides are still talking. Withdrawing RFA tenders to Marqueston Huff and Jumal Rolle is unrelated move."
Maybe that money will be used elsewhere …
"Whether the Ravens finish the deal with Claiborne, or focus on another free agent, taking the tenders off the table from Huff and Rolle to create more cap space is yet another sign that General Manager Ozzie Newsome isn't playing around," wrote BaltimoreBeatdown.com's Evan Mazza.
"When Ozzie said he wasn't done in free agency, he meant it."
Ravens Are Exploring Re-Signing Lardarius Webb
Another theory out there is the Ravens could be opening cap space for bringing back defensive back Lardarius Webb at a cheaper price.
La Canfora reported the team is exploring that possibility while continuing their talks with Claiborne.
That's an interesting report from La Canfora, as it came a day AFTER Webb already posted a heartfelt goodbye to Baltimore. If the Ravens do want to get Webb back, they may have competition from another team in purple.
The Minnesota Vikings are looking for nickel cornerback help and safety depth after Captain Munnerlyn left for Carolina. Webb could fill that role, which is the same one he could play in Baltimore if he returned.
The Vikings have more money to spend than the Ravens, as they have reportedly just under $27 million in cap space.
Chargers Release Tackle King Dunlap, Who Has Baltimore Connections
When the Ravens introduced newly-signed safety Tony Jefferson and running back Danny Woodhead to the Baltimore community, Newsome and Harbaugh gave a lot of credit to Eric Weddle for playing a recruiting role in the signings.
"If [Alabama coach] Nick Saban had Eric Weddle recruiting for him, he would not only have the best recruiting class, but I think he would have the best recruiting class next year, also," Newsome said.
Well, the Los Angeles Chargers released veteran tackle King Dunlap after signing him to a reported four-year, $28 million extension in February of 2015. The release comes just days ahead of a $500,000 roster bonus due on March 18, per NFL.com. The Ravens have a hole at starting right tackle after Rick Wagner signed a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions. With the veteran tackle market drying up after the first few days of free agency, Dunlap offers a new option.
A question is whether Dunlap could transition to the right side, as he's been a left tackle throughout his career. Also, the 31 year old has been a bit banged up, starting 46 of 64 games in San Diego over the past four years.
If the Ravens are interested in signing Dunlap, not only could they use their new recruiter in Weddle, but Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and new Offensive Line Coach Joe D'Alessandris could also jump into the efforts. D'Alessandris coached Dunlap in San Diego for three years, and Mornhinweg coached him from 2008-2012 in Philadelphia.
Dunlap was arrested last month on suspicion of violating a protective order placed on him by his girlfriend, which could deter the Ravens.
"The question is, if the Ravens front office wants nothing to do with Dunlap due to his arrest, will Weddle, D'Alessandris, or Mornhinweg vouch for him so the team can bring him in?" asked Mazza. "Dunlap not only can replace Wagner, but can be an option at left tackle in case Ronnie Stanley goes down."