On Friday, while the Chicago Bears were spending money, the Baltimore Ravens acquired a big new target for Joe Flacco. Arizona dealt Anquan Boldin and a fifth round pick in the upcoming draft to the Ravens in exchange for Baltimore's third and fourth round picks.
While the assumed fantasy impact of this trade initially appears to be significant, further study proves that it is likely a break-even proposition for both Flacco and Boldin.
In 2009, Boldin caught 84 balls for 1,024 yards and just four touchdowns in 15 games in the high-powered Arizona offense. Because the Cardinals saw Steve Breaston and Early Doucet emerge as secondary threats behind Larry Fitzgerald while Boldin was struggling with leg injuries at the end of the regular season, the time finally came for the Cardinals to part ways with the star receiver.
If Boldin had stayed in Arizona, there is a strong chance his production would have fallen off in 2010 both because of the crowded receiver group in the desert and the reality of Kurt Warner retiring. Anyone who has watched Matt Leinart in the last few seasons has cause for concern when considering any receivers in Arizona moving forward.
However, any expectation that Boldin's numbers will increase in Baltimore's system leaves room for disappointment.
The Ravens are replacing Derrick Mason, their leading receiver from last year who is considering retirement (again), with Boldin. Last year, though, Mason's numbers as the top receiver in Baltimore were nearly equal to Boldin's as a number two receiver in Arizona. Mason caught 73 balls for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns. Unless John Harbaugh plans a dramatic philosophical change in Baltimore, Boldin owners should expect production on par with what they received from Boldin, or Mason, last year. And while Boldin is a bigger, younger target than Mason, Flacco owners should expect moderate growth in his third season if any over his 2009 production.
In Arizona, though, any owners of Fitzgerald should be concerned moving forward. While Doucet and Breaston showed flashes of ability over the last couple seasons, Boldin is a known commodity. Taking an established, respected number two receiver and Warner out the offense surrounding Fitzgerald means he'll be doubled on every third down until one of the other Cardinals weapons proves to the league that they deserve special attention.
Hold: Flacco, Boldin
Buy: Breaston, Doucet (both with hesitation), Beanie Wells