Moving quickly to improve what has been the weakest position on their roster during the last several years, the Baltimore Ravens acquired Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals on the opening day of the 2010 league calendar.
Baltimore gave up its third- and fourth-round picks in this year’s draft to acquire Boldin— a move that significantly upgrades the position from last season, regardless of whether unrestricted free agents Derrick Mason and Kelley Washington re-sign with the team.
The Ravens immediately signed Boldin to a three-year contract extension that will pay him $28 million over four years.
In acquiring Boldin, the Ravens obtain the most physical wide receiver in the league—and a player with a history of solid production. In seven years, he has topped 1,000 yards five times while amassing 7,520 receiving yards to go along with 44 touchdowns.
For Boldin, his move to the Ravens is marginally positive from a fantasy perspective. At this point, Joe Flacco is more of a known commodity than Matt Leinart, so there is a reduced risk fantasy-wise.
In addition, the depth the Cardinals have at wide receiver caused the offensive touchdowns to be spread out in 2009. Boldin shapes up as a low-end WR1 or top-tier WR2 in 2010.
At quarterback, Flacco acquires his first bona fide No. 1 wide receiver since he entered the league. While Mason was productive in Baltimore, he was rarely a game-breaker.
Simply put, Boldin is bigger, stronger, and faster. Whereas opposing defenses respected Mason, they have to fear Boldin. Flacco should be considered a top-quality backup fantasy quarterback with upside.
In Arizona, Leinart certainly sees his fantasy stock drop with Boldin’s departure—although not as much as one might think. The team has perhaps the most skilled wide receiver in the league in Larry Fitzgerald. Steve Breaston moves into the starting lineup, and he topped 1,000 yards in a backup role in 2008. Early Doucet flashed some ability last season, and he had 14 receptions for 145 yards and two touchdowns during the team’s two playoff games.
As for Mason, at this point, he is a player without a team. Given that he considered retirement last year, it is possible he may go that route unless the Ravens step up to the plate to re-sign him.