Let the Boldin Bidding Begin
There's no rethinking the issue now for the Arizona Cardinals when it comes to trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
When General Manager Rod Graves and Coach Ken Whisenhunt announced Wednesday that they were listening to trade offers for Boldin, they added that their preference was to keep the three-time Pro Bowl wideout and sign him to a longterm contract extension.
Boldin has wanted to get out of Arizona for quite some time. And now that the Cardinals have acknowledged that they're considering trading him, there's no turning back. There's no repairing the relationship. There's no way to coexist any longer. In Boldin's mind, he undoubtedly is as good as gone.
So the questions are:
Where is Boldin headed?
And what will the Cardinals get in return?
Let's take the second of those questions first. It stands to reason that the Cardinals will be seeking at least what the Detroit Lions got from the Dallas Cowboys in last season's Roy Williams trade--first-, third- and sixth-round draft picks. Boldin is, simply put, a more productive player than Williams, and he remains in the prime of his career. The price tag will be substantial, and any team that trades for Boldin presumably will be prepared to sign him to a contract extension worth somewhere around $10 million per season. That's the deal that the Cardinals' other Pro Bowl wideout, Larry Fitzgerald, got. The Fitzgerald signing played a major role in putting Boldin at odds with the Cardinals over his contract.
Which teams will be the bidders? Let's do a quick rundown of some of the leading contenders:
Giants: They make the most sense. They're a championship-ready team that needs to replace the released Plaxico Burress. The Giants clearly weren't the same team without Burress that they'd been with him. Their playoff exit last season demonstrated that, and they have too many of the other parts in place on their roster to ignore their deficiency at receiver. They reportedly have been in pursuit of Cleveland Browns wideout Braylon Edwards. Boldin is better. The price might be a little higher for Boldin. But the Giants potentially could sweeten their offer by including wide receiver Steve Smith.
Eagles: For all the anguish that Terrell Owens caused during his relatively brief stay in Philadelphia, the fact remains that the Eagles' only Super Bowl appearance of the Andy Reid-Donovan McNabb era came with Owens on the roster. Reid seems enamored with having teams that lack a true No. 1 receiver. Perhaps he should change his mind--or be strongly, strongly urged by his bosses to change his mind.
Dolphins: Boldin told a South Florida radio station recently that he'll always be "a Florida guy at heart" and he'd love to play for the Dolphins. Bill Parcells's last experience with a diva receiver in Dallas wasn't exactly a positive one, but maybe he could make things work with Boldin better than he did with Owens. This time, Parcells wouldn't actually have to do the coaching. That would be Tony Sparano's headache, not his.
Redskins: Why include them on the list? Didn't they just use a pair of second-round draft picks on receivers last year and shouldn't they sit back and see if one of those guys becomes a contributor? Yes. But the Redskins always seem to be a factor in these marquee-player-is-available sweepstakes. They said they weren't interested in Jay Cutler, and they did all they could to get him. Remember, they tried to trade for Chad Johnson (now Chad Ocho Cinco) last offseason, and they reportedly have had interest in Boldin in the past. They could give up one of their current receivers as part of their trade package. Count them as a long shot in this one, but don't ever count them out.
There are other possible destinations that make sense. The Baltimore Ravens could use a top receiver as quarterback Joe Flacco matures. The Chicago Bears need a capable wideout to help Cutler, although they have little left to give after surrendering so much for their new quarterback. The Kansas City Chiefs hired former Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley as their head coach and still have trade resources after yielding only a second-round choice for quarterback Matt Cassel, but maybe there was more to that sideline argument between Boldin and Haley late in the NFC title game than they were willing to admit at the time. The San Francisco 49ers chased Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner earlier in the offseason and didn't get him, but maybe they could get Boldin instead. The New York Jets have been looking for a wide receiver to replace the departed Laveranues Coles.
Suddenly, the NFL has a new top pre-draft story line.
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