Ravens interested in Anquan Boldin


Throw the Ravens into the mix of teams interested in acquiring wideout Anquan Boldin from the Cardinals.

In a move that could drastically change this year’s NFL draft, the Ravens have expressed interest in acquiring wide receiver Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals, a league source confirmed Thursday.

It would likely take a first- and a third-round draft pick to acquire Boldin, who had 89 catches for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

This is the third time in five years the Ravens have considered trading for a wide receiver. Their trade for Terrell Owens in 2004 was rescinded, and the team failed to complete a deal for Randy Moss in 2005.

Asked whether the Ravens have contacted the Cardinals about Boldin, general manager Ozzie Newsome said Thursday: “With the draft coming up, I’ve had a chance to talk to eight different teams over the past 48 hours.”

Boldin, 28, would be attractive to the Ravens because they couldn’t draft a proven receiver like him with the 26th overall pick.

As the article points out, if the Ravens are determined to take a receiver at No. 26, then giving up a first and a third for Boldin would be wise. Any receiver they take in the first round would need two to three years to develop and even then, they might not be half the player Boldin is right now.

Giving Joe Flacco a highly productive wide receiver like Boldin would be an outstanding move. But is it more important than filling their defensive (their identity) holes? Remember, Baltimore lost Bart Scott to the Jets in free agency and released cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister. They did sign free agent Domonique Foxworth, but that still leaves a hole at the other cornerback position. Then again, the Ravens would have one of the better offenses in the NFL if they brought in Boldin, so it’ll be interesting to see if they put together a trade package.

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Pete Prisco’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com ranks his top 50 NFL free agents and to no one’s surprise, he has Titans’ defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth ranked No. 1. No other free agent should be ranked ahead of Haynesworth given his age and talent. But anyone that thinks he isn’t a major risk is fooling themselves.

Haynesworth wants $72 million, as in, seventy-two million dollars. He would be the highest paid defender in the league and while his talent is unquestioned, he’s coming off a career season in a contract year. Would anyone be surprised if he caught Tommie Harris’s disease and his production drops off after he gets paid? I wouldn’t, and I firmly believe that if he winds up signing with the Redskins, there’s a great chance he’ll be a major disappointment considering Washington is the black hole for defensive linemen.

I think Prisco hit the nail on the head by ranking Ravens’ center Jason Brown No. 2. Even though guys like Matt Birk (Vikings) and Jeff Saturday (Colts) will be available, Brown is the best center on the market and can help anchor the interior of somebody’s line for years to come.

Where Prisco loses me is his ranking of the cornerbacks.

5. Bryant McFadden, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers: He’s a solid starter and teams are always looking for corners. Plus, his best football will come in the next three years.

8. DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington Redskins: He’s not nearly as good as he thinks, but he played well for the Redskins after the Raiders let him go last season. But how does he play after he gets paid? He had to play well in Washington to get another big contract.

12. Philip Buchanon, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He started last year for the Bucs, and at 28 he still has some good football left. He’s another player who is a perfect second corner.

31. Chris McAlister, CB, Baltimore Ravens: He’s getting up in years and has injury issues last season, but he can still help a team for a year or two. When he’s healthy, he can still cover well.

33. Ronald Bartell, CB, St. Louis Rams: He’s a young player who emerged last year in his first as a starter. He’s the kind of rising player teams need to sign.

McFadden is a good young player, but I don’t know if he should be listed in the top 5 of available free agents. Hall proved last year in Oakland that he’s an overrated and overpaid, while Buchanon is a classic underachiever and McAlister (as Prisco noted) is getting up there in years.

But how is Bartell the fifth best cornerback on the market? There’s no way. He’ll be overpaid (he’s likely to command $40 million over five years), but he offers more upside than every free agent Prisco rated higher outside of maybe McFadden.

Peter King thinks it’ll be an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl

Peter King of SI.com made his predictions for this Sunday’s games and thinks it’ll be an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.

Hines Ward• The longer the week goes, the more reason I find to like Arizona. The defense has been reborn in January, the players have perfected the Rodney Dangerfield no-respect rant, Larry Fitzgerald is playing like Superman, and they’ll be home, inside their weather-controlled dome. However, what this pick comes down to is my late-season belief in Donovan McNabb … 217 yards passing in the Meadowlands wind tunnel last week, 68-percent passing in Minnesota’s noise machine the week before, and a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception differential in the five games since Andy Reid pulled the plug on him in Baltimore. And though I trust the Arizona defense to stop the Eagle run, I trust McNabb to make the right decisions and move the Eagles consistently against Arizona.

On the other side, I don’t think Kurt Warner will have the time to throw that he’s had in his first two playoff games, which means he probably will have to throw more checkdowns than he likes. The Eagles linebackers ate up the checkdowns against the Giants last week. McNabb’s out for redemption, whether he says it or not, and he’ll get it near his winter home in the desert. Philadelphia 24, Arizona 19.

• As a reporter, or a fan, when you get to the big games, you just hope both teams come in healthy so when the ball’s kicked off, you can say, “Let the best man win.” In this game, I’m afraid it’s about the healthiest team winning. The Steelers’ running game has come alive with a healthy Willie Parker gashing the Browns and Chargers for 262 yards on 50 carries in his last two starts. And Roethlisberger has made a real alternative out of Santonio Holmes in the passing game, so he now has three guys — Holmes, Heath Miller, Hines Ward — he trusts implicitly when he throws.

I fear the Ravens will have to play the pass with Fabian Washington and Frank Walker — good, hard-trying guys but not shutdown corners — playing most of the snaps at corner with Chris McAlister long-gone and Samari Rolle likely out with a thigh injury. Two huge Ravens in this postseason, McClain and Terrell Suggs, will either be out or severely limited with injuries. I loved the Ravens two weeks ago. I still love their gumption, but I don’t think that’s enough to beat the hottest team playing and playing at home. Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 13.

Peter obviously saw my predictions for this weekend and went the opposite. Smart man.

Comment fodder: Who wins this week?

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