Hate it or love it, the Lions shouldn’t bring back Anquan Boldin
By Jack Ozark
Sadly, father time is still undefeated.
Yesterday, Detroit Lion and future Hall of Fame wide receiver, Anquan Boldin, announced that he will be returning for his 15th NFL season. Last year, Detroit signed Boldin late in the offseason and he immediately impacted the team. They threw him right into the starting lineup, and the savvy veteran stayed hot throughout the season. Personally, I loved this signing last year. And after his announcement yesterday, many will want him back with the team. However, I don’t believe that bringing back Boldin is best for this team now or for the future.
Last season the biggest reason Detroit signed Boldin was because of his leadership. He and coach Jim Caldwell go back to their Baltimore days and Caldwell knew he would be a great addition to this team. And during the regular season, he was. He stepped up and took over Ebron’s role when he went down. He continued to run beautiful routes on third down to move the chains. And he became an insanely reliable red-zone threat when the team had nobody else that would step up.
And then the playoff game happened. Boldin, who was supposed to be a locker room leader, snapped twice, leading to two unnecessary roughness penalties. And of course, both of these happened to occur at important drives in the game. Maybe even worse, they allowed the “same old Lions” group of “fans” to get their voices heard.
Right then and there it seemed like Boldin ended his Lions career the way so many others have, hero to zero. And I’ve always loved Boldin, I loved him on this team last season, but that experiment is over.
This year coming up is going to be huge for Detroit. Last year, many had zero expectations for this team. (Think back at how many people wanted Jake Rudock to be the starter for reference.) Now they are a team trying to actually win the division and make some noise in the playoffs. Just look to this first week of free agency, GM Bob Quinn made it a point to get players he wanted in the positions he needed them at. That already isn’t a “same old Lions” move.
So replacing Boldin this year won’t be that tough. The veteran leadership amongst receivers should be coming from Golden Tate and Marvin Jones now. Those two guys should be able to solidify themselves as one of the top tandems in the league. More importantly, they should be the players that are reliable enough to make a big play with the game on the line.
As for the red zone and matchup presence, Eric Ebron should take over that area. I already mentioned how Boldin took over once Ebron went down, but now that he’s coming in healthy he should be able to take over Boldin’s old stomping grounds, and with his skill set, should be doing it even better. And now with the addition of Darren Fells, Ebron’s blocking duties will be relieved slightly. So, we might finally get to see Ebron used exclusively as a pass catcher, (as he should be).
Also, Boldin is just plain old. The guy could ball back in the day. Heck, he still can ball, but that doesn’t mean a team should sign him. The Lions are looking to grow talent, whether that be through the draft, some practice squad guys like Jace Billingsley or by bringing in younger vets like Keshawn Martin. Having Boldin will keep them from getting on the field sooner. Which means they won’t get better. Which means when injuries occur, Detroit will have no backup talent developed. And believe it or not, this development ends up being huge when it comes to a team getting even better. And I might not speak for you here, but I would be very happy if the Lions got even better.
So this is tough. I never thought it would end this way. Well, here it goes. I love you Anquan, but sometimes it’s better to let the things you love be free.
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