Ravens may have eye on Boldin

The Baltimore Sun

TAMPA, Fla. - Although the Ravens failed to reach the Super Bowl this season, could their future No. 1 wide receiver be playing in it?

Arizona's Anquan Boldin will likely draw interest from the Ravens as well as a handful of other teams this offseason if the Cardinals are willing to deal him.

Boldin has publicly expressed his unhappiness with the Cardinals - from fuming about his contract during the summer to arguing with offensive coordinator Todd Haley on the sideline during the NFC championship game - and might be on the trading block after Sunday's game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"At this point, we're going to evaluate where we are with Anquan after the season," Cardinals general manager Rod Graves said yesterday. "We still consider him a core member of our football team. We'll tackle those issues with him in a meeting with him after the season."

Boldin, 28, has two years remaining on his contract, but he vowed last summer that he wouldn't re-sign with Arizona after the team signed receiver Larry Fitzgerald to a contract (four years for $40 million) that nearly doubled his own.

Because the free-agent class for receivers is weak, Boldin would be considered the top wide-out available. The Cardinals might be able to trade him for a first-round pick, especially after Roy Williams was dealt from the Detroit Lions to the Dallas Cowboys for picks in the first, third and fifth rounds.

In six seasons, Boldin, 6 feet 1, 217 pounds, has averaged 83.6 catches per season and 81.2 yards per game. This season, he caught a career-high 11 touchdown passes.

The Ravens' top receiver, Derrick Mason, had 80 catches, but he is 35 years old and no one else on the team had more than 41. Ravens wide receivers combined for 10 touchdowns.

When Boldin, nicknamed "Q," wasn't being asked about his sideline confrontation, the most popular question for him was where he will be playing next season. Will it be with the New York Giants? The Chicago Bears? Or perhaps the Ravens?

"I am here to win a Super Bowl," Boldin said, "and thinking about what somebody else needs or what somebody else wants doesn't help me at all."

Even though Fitzgerald has set a postseason record for receiving yards (419), it has been Boldin who has drawn the media spotlight.

Reporters have repeatedly been asking about his shouting match with Haley, which occurred after he was removed during the team's game-winning drive in the NFC championship game. Boldin, who had been nursing a hamstring injury, then stormed off the field at the end of the game when the rest of his teammates celebrated a trip to the Super Bowl.

"I am a competitor," Boldin said. "It was truly about being in that game and that drive of that magnitude."

A reporter asked Boldin yesterday how he would handle being on the sideline in the Super Bowl if the Cardinals faced third down in the red zone and trailed by six points.

"In this game?" Boldin said with a high-pitched voice. "I don't think that's going to happen."

Rod Woodson, an NFL Network commentator and former Ravens defensive back, said the matter has been blown out of proportion.

"He's a competitor and wants to play," Woodson said. "That doesn't make it right, wrong or indifferent. But on a yearly basis, coaches and players get into some heated conversations on the sideline. Unfortunately for Q, he got it caught on tape."

Boldin has overcome tougher confrontations.

Earlier this season, he was sidelined only three weeks after a crunching collision that caused multiple facial fractures, a concussion and a displaced jaw. It occurred when Boldin leaped for an end-zone pass in a blowout loss.

Having seven titanium plates and more than 40 screws inserted in his surgically reconstructed face, Boldin caught nine passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back.

"He's a kind of guy that I'm proud is in our locker room," Graves said. "It would be my belief that he would like to continue here in Arizona."

But Boldin said his only focus is going against the NFL's top-ranked defense and winning the Super Bowl.

"If you worry about too much of the future, you miss the moment right now," Boldin said. "That is something that I don't want to do."


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Line: Steelers by 7

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