Should the Denver Broncos Kick the Tires on Anquan Boldin?

The Broncos need a third option in the passing game. Is Boldin the right fit?

As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to pass up on 37-year-old wide receivers.

I think Anquan Boldin might be one of the few exceptions.

The Denver Broncos obviously boast a stellar one-two combination at the wide receiver position, but past Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the production falls off of a cliff, and really hasn't been there since Wes Welker left after the 2014 season.

Regardless of who the Broncos put behind center in 2017, Mike McCoy will try to make the offense as quarterback-friendly as possible. That means building a stout offensive line, taking the pressure off with a potent running game, and finding a safety blanket.

Thomas and Sanders aren't necessarily safety blankets in the passing game as much as they are home run hitters. They do most of their damage outside the numbers. Exploiting the middle of the field, which both Broncos quarterbacks struggled mightily with a season ago, requires either a quick, slippery player or a fearless, physical one.

Cue the 14-year vet with over 13,000 yards and 82 touchdowns.

Anquan Boldin makes perfect sense for the Broncos. Boldin is a sort of rare breed of wide receiver, one that ages much better than his counterparts. The primary reason for that is he hasn't slowed down much because he was never all that fast to begin with.

Boldin's game is built around physicality, route-running, and reliable hands. He makes his living in the middle of the field where he can find spots in the zone, box out smaller defenders, and rack up plenty of yards after the catch. Like the Broncos showed in 2013, having an intermediate threat looming in the middle of the field takes some of the onus off of the perimeter guys to carry the passing game. Receivers like this are crucial in a quarterback's development. 

Tony RomoPhilip Rivers, and Matt Ryan all owe a lot of their early success to reliable targets like Jason WittenAntonio Gates, and Tony Gonzalez. They're all guys that got open five-to-ten yards down the field, converted third downs, were excellent in the red zone, and (perhaps most importantly for the Broncos) allowed the quarterback to get the ball out of his hand quickly.

Obviously, Boldin isn't a tight end, but at this stage of his career, he almost functions like one, with his yards per reception gradually decreasing to show an emphasis on short and intermediate routes. Everywhere he's gone in his career, he's been a quarterback's best friend, 

Despite being a late addition to the 2016 Detroit Lions, Boldin fit right in with Matthew Stafford, playing in all 17 games and contributing 69 grabs for 606 yards and eight touchdowns. He's obviously not the dominant force he was a decade or even five years ago, but he provided above-average production for a third wide receiver behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.

The Broncos need that type of presence to improve their offense in 2017, and he's right there for the taking. Pick up the phone.

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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.

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