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Who wants Boldin?
Interested: Eagles? Jets? Giants? Dolphins? Jaguars? Cowboys? Ravens? Panthers?
While the Cleveland Browns have been surreptitiously marketing Braylon Edwards without publicly declaring his availability on the trading block this offseason, it appears that another high-end wide receiver is now also on the market. Ken Whisenhunt recently told Darren Urban of the Arizona Republic that "it would be foolish from our standpoint not to listen to those opportunities and see what actually exists. But I want to make the point: our goal is to re-sign him to a long-term deal. That hasn't changed." Cardinals general manager Rod Graves also chimed in, saying, "we just think it is prudent for us to evaluate all our options."
Both Whisenhunt and Graves chose not to divulge which teams were already in the mix, which is more fun for the average NFL fan anyway. The New York Giants are expected to get involved, if they haven't already, owing to the fact that they are clearly in need of a new No. 1 wide receiver. While Tom Rock of Newsday has been told by a source that the Giants have not yet inquired about Boldin, Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger describes a scenario where the Giants might actually be closer to landing Boldin than Edwards. The Browns seem to be uninterested in budging off their high asking price for Edwards, while the Cards could potentially accept a lighter offer. On the other hand, Boldin's asking price is probably pretty steep too. Agent Drew Rosenhaus made remarks in February indicating that the Cards would need a deal similar to what the Detroit Lions got for Roy Williams; namely, a deal centered around a first-, third- and sixth-round pick in this year's draft. Of course, as we learn in Economics 101, the more competition that exists in a market, the lower the price of goods will go, so perhaps with this other player now available, one of the teams will soften its compensatory expectations.
The Philadelphia Eagles are another likely suitor for both Edwards and Boldin. At the league meetings in March, coach Andy Reid told the Philadelphia Daily News that, "I'll always look at something if there is a great player out there, and it doesn't matter what position. I'm always looking to better our football team." The Eagles have so far stood by their claim that they are happy with their current slate of receivers, but with such a large cache of draft picks, it'd be a little silly not to at least make an offer. Adding to that sentiment is the idea that Boldin could potentially end up with their archrivals, and one can easily argue that the Eagles need to be involved.
Another NFC East team, the Dallas Cowboys, has 11 total picks in the draft, and a Williams-Boldin tandem would make defensive backfields shudder. At first, it might seem crazy for the Cowboys to shell out another package of draft picks for another wide receiver; but, with the uncertain production of rookie players being weighed against the near-certain dominance that would be on display with Williams and Boldin on the same team, the move could make sense. The Jacksonville Jaguars might not have the complete wealth of draft picks that the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants possess, but they are playing with the eighth overall selection, which could be an attractive trading chip in the eyes of the Cardinals, who won't pick until No. 31.
For the other receiver-needy teams, the offers might have to be a little more creative than just draft picks. Luckily, the Cardinals are in need of a running back to complement Tim Hightower, and no one is sure what's going to happen with Edgerrin James, who has asked for his release. One team that comes to mind is the New York Jets, who have only six picks in the draft, but could involve offseason workout-skipping Thomas Jones as part of a larger deal. The team might have a Brian Westbrook-type player in Leon Washington, and with Jones on the wrong side of 30, the time for a big change could be now. The Miami Dolphins could be in the mix as well. Earlier in April during an appearance on ESPN Radio 760, Boldin was asked if he'd be up for playing in Miami, and he responded, "I would love to. You know, I'm a Florida guy, always will be a Florida guy at heart. If it happens, I'll definitely be grateful." The Dolphins also have a lower pick in the first round, and nine picks total, but could dangle Ricky Williams. Williams, like Jones, is also on the wrong side of 30, but had a resurgent performance as the complement to Ronnie Brown in 2008, rushing 160 times for 659 yards and four touchdowns in addition to his 29 receptions for 219 yards and another touchdown. Likewise, the Baltimore Ravens, who have just six picks but could survive on offense with Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain, could come calling with an offer that includes Willis McGahee. Using similar logic to the above situations, the Carolina Panthers, who have just five picks in the draft, might also come calling to Graves with a mix of picks and a player or two.
Whether or not a deal for Boldin actually takes place, it's bad news for the Browns, who now have competition in trying to sell off Edwards. Moreover, the potential for one landscape-changing deal in the NFC East has now been pushed aside, as it appears that multiple teams from the division will be vying for the same players. With just over two weeks left before the draft begins on April 25, there may be much more to come on the Boldin and Edwards sweepstakes in the next few days.