That has changed now as Boldin has signed a deal with his fourth NFL team. The Detroit Lions have signed him to a 1-year deal with terms yet to be disclosed. Still trying to get over the sudden retirement of future Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson, the Lions are looking to bolster their wide receiving corps by opening up the offense and having Matthew Stafford spread out the ball to a multitude of wide receivers.
Boldin is entering his 14th season in the NFL, having played in 14 or more games for seven straight seasons. Last year he actually put up decent stats despite playing on an offensively-challenged San Francisco 49ers. Boldin actually led the team in catches (69), yards (789) and touchdowns (4). He’s now joining a Lions team with a far more talented quarterback and an overall deeper wide receiver group.
This is a good value signing for the Lions. Unlike the receiver-starved 49ers, the Lions actually have some depth at the position. Golden Tate is two years removed from a Pro Bowl appearance and has the skillset needed to be a successful No. 1 receiver. Though free agent signee Marvin Jones is widely overpaid at $8 million a year, he’s 10 years younger than Boldin and is three years removed from a season where he caught 10 touchdowns, so the upside is there for him.
You can basically lock Tate and Jones into the starters. Beyond those two, it’s a wide open group. Third-year-player TJ Jones could benefit from Johnson’s retirement and become the No. 3 option, but he only caught 10 passes for 132 yards last season and has overall been a disappointment. In addition to the receivers, tight end Eric Ebron and running backs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick will be in line to grab a fair share of targets.
Boldin may not have age on his side, but he’s got consistent production and perhaps most importantly, a great relationship with head coach Jim Caldwell. It was Caldwell who called the plays during the 2012 NFL Playoffs where Boldin dominated with 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Easily the best stretch of Boldin’s three seasons with the Ravens, it is exciting to see him reunite with the offensive mind that helped him to win a Super Bowl.
Though unlikely to put up big stats in Detroit at 36 years old, Boldin is not a name to sleep on. Even though he’s unlikely to top his 2015 numbers as a No. 3 receiver, Boldin can still be a useful receiver for the team. He’s durable, consistently healthy and still makes tough catches. He’s also a veteran whose coming off a season where he won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award and should definitely be a solid veteran leader to a relatively young Lions offense.