Top-heavy 2014 cap commitment could be barrier to Boldin extension

March 11, 2013 | Luke Jones

News over the weekend of the Ravens’ attempt to cut the salary of Anquan Boldin by a reported $2 million has naturally been met with plenty of negative reaction in the aftermath of a tremendous postseason performance by the veteran receiver.

There are several possible outcomes to this ordeal spelled out by’s Glenn Clark, with the idea of a short-term contract extension reducing his $7.5 million cap number for the 2013 season being the most popular one. It seems like a simple solution to the problem — and one that’s still possible considering the Ravens haven’t yet pulled the trigger in releasing Boldin — but an early look at the 2014 salary cap helps explain why general manager Ozzie Newsome and the organization might be hesitant to offer any money to the veteran beyond this season.

As it stands right now, the projected 2014 salary cap has $70.9 million in space committed to just six players — Haloti Ngata, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Ray Rice, and Marshal Yanda — and next year’s cap is not expected to increase dramatically from the $123 million set for the 2013 season. Of course, the Ravens could explore contract restructures — or even releases of Suggs and Ngata, specifically — before next season, but that’s a huge percentage of space committed to a small number of players.

It’s clear the Ravens want to keep their No. 1 receiver for the 2013 season or they wouldn’t have even offered a pay cut to Boldin and would have simply terminated his contract in the way they did with veteran guard Bobbie Williams on Friday. But with Boldin turning 33 next season and already struggling to gain separation while still relying on a quick first step and incredibly strong hands, it’s fair to wonder how productive he will be as he continues through the latter portion of his career.

A contract extension would reduce Boldin’s 2013 cap number, but it also means committing money to future caps, whether they would choose to keep the veteran wideout beyond this season or not. And even if it’s only a few million dollars on the books for 2014, that would be a precious amount with the Ravens currently having an astronomical figure committed to a half-dozen players.

If the Ravens aren’t confident that Boldin will be worth the investment beyond 2013 — he turns 33 in October — you can understand their trepidation with even offering an extra year and there’s no guarantee the prideful receiver would accept that short of an extension anyway. It may simply be a case of electing to rip the band-aid off now instead of risking dead money on the 2014 cap with a potential release a year from now.

Looking for more space — and there could be more cuts coming with Vonta Leach, Jacoby Jones, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Jameel McClain as potential candidates — while hoping to commit to Boldin for one more year before reevaluating his status next offseason sounds like the perfect solution for the Ravens, but this may be a case of not being able to have your cake and eat it too.

The hardline stances taken by each side will be interesting to follow as we wait for a resolution, and it’s not dramatically different from the Bryant McKinnie saga that played out last September, which resulted in the sides working out a compromise when it appeared for several hours that the veteran tackle wasn’t going to be a member of the 2012 team. The Ravens are still hopeful something along those lines can happen again.

However, it may not be a happy ending in terms of working out a solution for Boldin to stay as Newsome must ultimately look ahead to a top-heavy 2014 salary cap and do what’s best for the organization in the long run.

Even if it means taking the short-term hit in knowing Boldin has played his final game with the Ravens.