The Ravens asked veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin to accept a $2 million pay cut of his $6 million base salary, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.
Depending on whether this financial dispute is resolved, it could lead to his release.
One source stated early Saturday morning, "Unless something dramatic happens, it's an absolute done deal that Anquan will be released."
This would be extremely unfortunate for the Ravens offense.
Boldin was easily one of the NFL's best and more reliable receiving targets throughout 2012. It was arguably his best season since joining Baltimore in 2010—921 yards on 65 catches and four touchdowns—and he dominated the postseason.
Boldin caught 22 passes for 380 yards and scored four times in the playoffs, all leading stats in January.
In short, if there were a playoff MVP award, Boldin would have a strong case.
Cash due to some upper-tier receivers in 2013: Santonio Holmes, $11.25 million. Sidney Rice, $8.5 million. Stevie Johnson, $7.33 million. Miles Austin, $6.73 million.
Cash due to Anquan Boldin in 2013: $6 million.
None of the aforementioned receivers have his strength and size combo to constantly defeat corners man-to-man like he did in the postseason. He also has the physical toughness to out-muscle when in double coverage.
Joe Flacco's nearly flawless January performance was courtesy of Boldin's dependability.
Although Boldin is turning 33 years old next season, he proved in 2012 he still has the talent to make plays against any defense.
Bolden's absence would undoubtedly reduce the potential threat of Baltimore's passing game.
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Opponents would then bracket Torrey Smith in Cover 1 and 3 and play more zone against tight end Dennis Pitta. The presence of Boldin prevents a Cover 1 safety from reading easily, and the defense then gets stretched back.
With Despite Pitta's ability to accumulate yards after the catch, linebackers would zero in on him at the intermediate level. With Boldin, however, the linebackers honor his ability to go deep. Pitta then sees wider zones to make defenders miss in open space.
Regardless of how this situation pans out, Baltimore still has Super Bowl potential. The ground game featuring Ray Rice is reliable and Flacco will continue spreading the field. Having Boldin just enhances the efficiency of Flacco by creating mismatches against any defense.