Boldin's pending departure sparked strong emotions of surprise and disappointment from his Ravens teammates, who watched the veteran grab six passes for 104 yards and a touchdown to defeat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
"It's definitely shock," said Ravens starting wide receiver Torrey Smith during a Super Bowl DVD viewing ceremony at the Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric. "That's the business every year. That's the tough part about this game. No team is ever the same, players, coaches, everything. It sucks, especially when you're close to people and you build those relationships. The family vibe we have here as a team is different than anything I've ever been around.
"It's tough for everyone, not just myself. Obviously, it will probably mean a little more responsibility, but I had that last year and the year before that. It's going to be hard. The biggest thing is not so much about football when you lose someone like that, a mentor, a big brother, somebody you love like a brother and would do anything for you."
Without Boldin, 32, more responsibility will shift to Smith, a former University of Maryland standout who caught 49 passes for 855 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
The Ravens also are expected to try to bolster the receiver position through free agency and the NFL draft. St. Louis Rams free agent wide receiver Danny Amendola is among the free agents the Ravens are expected to monitor. Amendola is talented and productive, but has durability issues and is expected to command a contract similar to the $30.7 million contract recently inked by Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline.
However, there are few players in Boldin's class in terms of hands, strength and toughness.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder consistently outmuscled defensive backs, utilizing his body to box them out for 65 receptions, 921 yards and four touchdowns last season.
"Anquan was a big part of this football team, a big part of this offense, and one of the many reasons why we won the Super Bowl this year," said quarterback Joe Flacco, who relied on Boldin in the playoffs for 22 completions, 380 yards and four touchdowns. "You lose a lot of things. You lose a leader, you lose the fire and, most of all, you lose a very good player and a who's done it over and over again. Not necessarily surprised, you see things like this happen every year in the NFL.
"It's just the nature of the business. It almost becomes just one of those things that you got to react to and take in stride. We just got to put some faith in our young guys and hope that they step up to the table and play the way they're capable of playing."
Pro Bowl kick returner Jacoby Jones had three returns for touchdowns during the regular season, also catching 30 passes for 406 yards and a touchdown. During the Super Bowl, Jones caught a touchdown pass and returned a kick for another score.