Ravens land Anquan Boldin

OWINGS MILLS – In a significant maneuver intended to revitalize a dormant passing game, the Baltimore Ravens were finally able to acquire the star wide receiver they had coveted for years.

The Ravens traded their third-round and fourth-round picks in exchange for Arizona Cardinals three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin and a fifth-round pick, brokering a deal where they faced competition from the Kansas City Chiefs.

"The Ravens just got better," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Anquan is a significant addition for us. He fits the personality of our team with the hard-nosed, physical way he plays.

"We love the way he competes. Our fans will enjoy watching him compete and his teammates will be excited to have him with us."

And the Ravens took no chances that this would be a short-term arrangement since Boldin was approaching the final year of his contract or that the former Florida State standout would arrive in Baltimore unhappy after years of griping about his compensation paling in comparison to Cardinals featured receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

So, the Ravens hammered out a four-year, $28 million contract with Boldin that included $10 million in guaranteed money and $25 million in new money.

At 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, Boldin provides a strong downfield presence to work in tandem with young quarterback Joe Flacco to complement running back Ray Rice.

"I'm a piece of the puzzle," Boldin said in a statement. "They have a great group of guys over there. I'm just happy to be going to a team that has a lot going for it. I believe I can help them, maybe get them to another level. I think I'll fit in with them. It's going to be a lot of fun being a Raven."

Boldin offers a physical presence with his aggressive running style after the catch and his zest for blocking.

In seven NFL seasons, he has averaged 83 receptions and six touchdowns per year. Why was he available?

The Cardinals explored trade scenarios with the Ravens last year, but the price was considered too exorbitant at that time since they were seeking a first-round pick and a third-round pick. The Cardinals privately have some concerns about Boldin's durability. He has had hip problems in the past.

And he turns 30 this fall.

The Ravens thoroughly examined Boldin's medical file before executing the trade.

Boldin is scheduled to fly into Baltimore today and take a physical Monday with plans to conduct a Monday afternoon press conference.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome held discussions throughout the day with Houston Texans wide receiver Kevin Walter, but that remained a secondary pursuit with Boldin available.

Walter wound up re-signing with the Texans with a five-year contract worth in excess of $21 million. "Anquan is a player who makes the tough catches and he is outstanding getting yards after catches," Newsome said. "He will also help the running game with his blocking skills. He's a very tough competitor and, with the way he plays with passion, he'll fit right in with the foundation we have for our team."

Boldin caught 84 passes for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns last season while averaging 12.2 yards per reception.

For his career since being drafted in the second round in 2003 after a less-than stellar NFL scouting combine, he has registered 586 receptions for 7,250 yards and 44 touchdowns. He was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2003.

Perhaps no one associated with the move is more enthused than Flacco about adding a player who has produced at least 80 receptions and 1,000 yards receiving in four of the past five seasons. "I was extremely excited to get the news of our addition of Anquan Boldin," Flacco said in a statement provided to the Times. "[Offensive coordinator Cam] Cameron called and gave me the good news. I think adding Anquan to the Ravens will not only be great for our offense, but our team as a whole."

Ironically, Flacco will meet Boldin for the first time today during Kurt Warner's flag-football tournament in Arizona.

With Boldin's addition, the Ravens' receiver picture is coming into focus.

Now, they have Donte' Stallworth, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Marcus Smith and Justin Harper.

And there's still a possibility that they could bring back veteran free agent Derrick Mason if he lowers his demands as far as upfront money. Mason has been rumored to be on the Miami Dolphins and the Tennessee Titans' radar, but there hasn't been any immediate action to sign him or bring him in for a visit.

The Ravens decided to pass on controversial restricted free agent wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who's visiting the Seattle Seahawks today.

And they didn't bid on other restricted free agents who were assigned the maximum tender like the San Diego Chargers' tandem of Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd since it would cost a first-round pick and a third-round pick as compensation if the AFC West franchise chose not to match an offer sheet.

Ultimately, the Ravens got the receiver they wanted the most.

Boldin has the seventh-most receptions in the NFL since entering the league seven years ago, the sixth-most receiving yards. Only Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith has averaged more receiving yards per contest during that span with an 80.3 average compared to Boldin's 79.2 The Cardinals' all-time receptions leader, Boldin is the fastest player in NFL history to reach the 400-catch milestone and the third-fastest to make it to 4,000 receiving yards, only ranking behind Lance Alworth and Randy Moss.

The Ravens are getting a player who was eager for a change and has been anticipating a potential partnership with the Ravens since discussing the prospects with middle linebacker Ray Lewis last year.

"I'm definitely excited," Boldin said. "For me, I've been hoping for this for a year since I first heard that the Ravens might be interested in me. I really look at this as a great opportunity for me.

"The Ravens play a certain way. They play as hard and as physical as any team in the league, and I want to add to that. I think I play the way they play."

NOTES: Backup defensive tackle Justin Bannan signed a five-year contract with the Denver Broncos and is slated to become a starting nose guard in their 3-4 defense. Bannan played collegiately at the University of Colorado. … Ravens free agent defensive end Dwan Edwards visited the Broncos and is now visiting the Seattle Seahawks. The Ravens would still like to re-sign Edwards and are staying in touch with him. … Ravens free agent wide receiver Kelley Washington has drawn interest from the Buffalo Bills and the Seahawks. … Reserve defensive tackle Lamar Divens, who spent last season on injured reserve, signed his one-year deal for nearly $400,000. … One of the Ravens' coveted free agents, 6-foot-2, 295-pound blocking tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, signed a five-year deal with the Chicago Bears that included $7 million in guaranteed money.


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