Anquan Boldin: Thanks for the Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Rob BursonCorrespondent IApril 20, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30:  Wide receiver Anquan Boldin #81 of the Arizona Cardinals carries the ball against the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium December 30, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona.   The Cardinals won 48-19.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Anquan Boldin is as tough as a barbed-wire sandwich.

What he lacks in speed, he makes up for with physical play and tenacity. He's smart, well-liked in the locker room (chosen offensive captain in 2007) and has been selected to the Pro Bowl three times.

He's a big time player, so whoever forks over the draft picks for his services over the next couple of days is going to be very satisfied with the product.

Arizona will certainly miss him, but here's what his new team is getting.

He was the only rookie in the NFL selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004. Of course, that same year, he was also selected as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Though Boldin has been injured throughout the years, he still often manages to pull in more grabs and rack up more yardage than most other receivers who stay healthy all year long.

His injuries are a testament that he's willing to take a thumping for the team, evidenced during the Cardinals' Sept. 28 game against the New York Jets last season.

Down 56-35, with a mere 27 ticks on the clock, Boldin went up after a Kurt Warner pass in the end-zone and got sandwiched between Jets safeties Kerry Rhodes and Eric Smith.

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Boldin suffered jaw and sinus fractures that required surgery. He refused to take pain killers while recovering.

Two games and a bye week later, Boldin was back and he caught nine passes and scored two touchdowns in his return.

Having Boldin on your team is like having a Brandon Marshall without all the off-field legal baggage. Or better yet, Boldin is like a Mike Alstott brought up as a receiver instead of a running back.

Though Fitzgerald managed to steal the spotlight from Boldin in 2008, it probably had a lot to do with defenses deciding to lock down on Anquan and take their chances with Fitzgerald.

Still, Boldin managed to keep pace for over 1,000 yards, even while out those two games with a fractured face.

Between the opponent's 20 and at the goal line, Boldin was the go-to-guy for the Cardinals. The short and quick inside screen was something the opponents could see coming, but rarely could stop last season.

Boldin was also the go-to guy on the roll to the outside and for the little dump pass, proving that, no matter the situation, if the Cards were in the red zone, and the ball got in Anquan's hands, good things were bound to happen.

The fella just has a feel for the goal line.

He brings a little baggage, but much of it is overplayed.

He indeed has been seen arguing with his offensive coordinator at the most inappropriate of times, but both Todd Haley (who has since moved on) and Boldin, have both publicly stated that they'd team up again if it came down to it.

Though he stormed out of the locker room after the NFC Championship game (the only player not to stay and celebrate), his teammates have forgiven him, and guys like Warner and Fitzgerald have recently stepped up to the plate and offered to renegotiate their own contracts so Anquan can get paid.

There have been injuries, but he's a physical player and physical players get hurt. He recovers quickly and manages to put up Pro Bowl numbers, even when out several games a season.

At 28, he's got two or three potential Pro Bowl years still ahead of him, and those years could propel his team to the edge of postseason greatness, and push a great receiver over the top.

Arizona Cardinals fans owe Anquan Boldin a big "thank you" for his years of putting his body on the line each and every game. He'll certainly be very missed in Arizona.

To the fans of whatever team manages to grab him up this week, get ready for the real deal. Boldin is going to leave his blood, sweat and tears on the field for you every single down.

I have no doubt that, at the end of 2009 (and beyond), you'll be thanking Anquan, too.