How do I see this playing out? Boldin is a proud player who takes his contract very personally. Just ask the Cardinals about Boldin, who accused them of lying about a new contract three years ago, then demanded a trade. That's why many believe Boldin won't agree to a pay reduction, which will force the Ravens into a tough decision (especially when they don't have an immediate replacement on the roster).
"Without him, we don't win the Super Bowl. He's a huge part of this team and someone I want to see back," Flacco told USA Today. "Obviously, when you're a player of his caliber, you believe you're worth a number and that's what you should get. He's going to stick to his guns, and that's the way it should be."
This has triggered a couple of responses: (1) Flacco has no right to say this after signing a six-year, $120.6 million contract, and (2) he has become more outspoken since that NFL-record deal. Both are wrong.
Even though Flacco became the highest-paid player in league history, his deal actually helped Boldin. If the Ravens had put the franchise tag on Flacco, they would've committed either $14 million (nonexclusive tag) or $19 million (exclusive tag) to the cap. By striking a long-term agreement, Flacco accounts for only $6.8 million against the cap in 2013, which left more room and increased the chances of keeping Boldin at his current contract.
The other part is the notion that Flacco has become a louder voice. Although I would agree that Flacco seems more comfortable and confident since signing his deal, this isn't the first time he has spoken out against the team. It was two years ago when Flacco expressed his anger at the firing of quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn. "I'm disappointed, and they know I'm disappointed," Flacco said at the time.
Boldin's status should get resolved this week. The Ravens could give Boldin an extension to spread his cap hit over the next couple of years. But the Ravens likely want him off the books by 2014, when the salaries for Flacco ($6 million), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata ($8.5 million) and cornerback Lardarius Webb ($7.5 million) jump significantly. Baltimore also could create $3 million in cap room this year by cutting Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach.
The Ravens are about $12 million under the salary cap, but they are projected to have only about $4 million in cap space after they extend contracts to all of their restricted and exclusive-rights free agents. If they want to bring back linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and safety Ed Reed, the Ravens will need to open up more cap room in some way.