With the numbers he posted last year, one might joke that Anquan Boldin was the Lions' best tight end. Now he'll attempt to top them with the Bills, who signed Boldin in August. He figures to work as a starter and be mostly a safety valve for Tyrod Taylor. It could lead to roughly four receptions per game and maybe 65 on the season. That sounds good until you realize Boldin's receiving average cratered to 8.7 yards per grab last season. Realistically, he could finish with 700 yards and six scores, but that's not the kind of stats you'd want from even a bench receiver. Boldin might fill in as a bye-week replacement off waivers during your season.
Boldin announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday, Jim Trotter of ESPN reports. While it isn't clear why Boldin is calling it quits just two weeks after signing a one-year contract with the Bills, the gritty veteran has plenty to hang his hat on as he looks back on a 14-year career, one that started with the Cardinals selecting him in the second round of the 2003 draft. Boldin immediately exploded onto the scene -- catching 10 passes for 217 yards in his first game -- and ultimately finished as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Then, after earning three Pro Bowl nods along the way, Boldin won a Super Bowl title with the Ravens before separate, less celebrated stints with the 49ers and Lions. He'll retire ninth all time in receptions (1,076), 14th in receiving yards (13,779) and tied for 23rd in receiving touchdowns (82). As for the Bills, Boldin's departure leaves the team with even more uncertainty at receiver. Second-round rookie Zay Jones is probably the favorite to claim the starting role opposite Jordan Matthews, but former Raiders Andre Holmes and Rod Streater (toe) could make a bid as well.
Boldin caught one pass for five yards on three targets in Thursday's preseason game against the Eagles. Boldin appeared to get snaps both outside and from the slot, after almost exclusively playing inside the past two years in Detroit and San Francisco. He may be moved around out of necessity as part of a shaky receiving corps, especially considering that Jordan Matthews (sternum) has also done his best work from the slot. With Sammy Watkins gone and Matthews sidelined, Tyrod Taylor looked horrific in Thursday's game, often forced to bail on plays and panicking on multiple occasions when he couldn't find an open man. The Bills admittedly were facing a tough opponent and still have time to cobble together a respectable passing attack before Week 1.
Boldin will make his debut for Buffalo on Thursday night in Philadelphia, Chris Brown of the Bills' official site reports. The Bills have pretty much a brand-new receiving corps this season, while Boldin was just signed last week. Hence, much of the slotting still needs to be worked out, though Boldin is generally thought to fit at the very least in the top three and the guy most likely to work from the slot. Even at 36, Boldin remains a guy who knows who to haul in his share of catches, though no one's pretending he has breakaway speed at this stage of his career. What's odd is the Bills now have no stud receiver after trading Sammy Watkins, while several guys seemingly fit the same kind of make-up -- bigger targets with good hands that aren't known for stretching the field.
Boldin's fit within the Bills offense could be complicated by Friday's trade acquisition of Jordan Matthews, who also prefers to operate out of the slot, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal reports. Boldin only signed with Buffalo this week, but it's already a bit unknown how Buffalo will maximize both he and Matthews within its scheme. Fifteen years into his NFL service, Boldin no longer possesses the explosiveness needed to gain separation outside, thus restricting him to making his impact from the slot. Through his first three seasons, however, Matthews has totaled 225 catches, 2,673 yards and 19 touchdowns while predominately operating from a similar spot. As a result, the Bills suddenly have a pair of slot specialists, which could prove to hurt Boldin most considering the value the team surrendered for Matthews.
Boldin, signed by the Bills on Monday, will not play in Thursday night's preseason opener against the Vikings, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Boldin is still getting up to speed, and with plenty of potential roster cuts to evaluate there's no reason to rush things for the first preseason game. We expect him to see action in next week's preseason contest.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/10||New York Jets||18||22.75|
|7||10/22||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||19||22.88|
|9||11/03||@New York Jets||18||22.75|
|10||11/12||New Orleans Saints||28||24.75|
|11||11/19||@Los Angeles Chargers||9||20.75|
|12||11/26||@Kansas City Chiefs||17||22.41|
|13||12/03||New England Patriots||7||19.74|
|16||12/24||@New England Patriots||7||19.74|
|3 Year Avg||112||73||812||6||44||11.12||117|