While the team will potentially look to draft a receiver in May's 2014 NFL Draft, they could also look to the free agent market and find a solution for Nicks' inevitable departure. And one potential idea that could help the team — one that not many people might be considering unlike the usual suspects such as James Jones, Eric Decker or Golden Tate — is San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
While guys like Decker, Tate, Jones and even Nicks himself might require a lengthy, multi-year deal once March 11th hits, Boldin is 33-years-old and may not require a long-term deal considering he's at the tail end of his 11-year career and could be looking for one last decent pay day. Plus, a potential opportunity to win one more Super Bowl is something he could find intriguing.
While Boldin could always stick around with the 49ers and try to win there, San Francisco has major decisions to make, and if they are going to keep many of their core players around, someone like Boldin might not fit into the team's plans next season. This is what puts Boldin into play for a team like the Giants.
Signing Boldin to a short-term deal won't hamper the Giants ability to draft someone in May and allow them to develop them and put them into the starting lineup, similar to what happened with Nicks when he was drafted in 2009 (he didn't become a full-time starter until the 2010 season). Plus, a player like Boldin shouldn't break the Giants bank as far as salary goes whereas others like Nicks and Decker could command as much as $10 million a season from suitors.
Ever since coming into the league in 2003, Boldin has been about as consistent a player and receiver as you can get — his lowest receiving numbers were 623 yards and one touchdown back in 2004, but ever since then, he's been good for 800-1000 yards receiving with at least four-seven touchdowns. With the 49ers last season, Boldin had 85 catches for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns and averaged 13.9 yards per reception, so his consistency to put up solid numbers might be better than what Nicks was giving the Giants over the last two seasons.
Some of Boldin's best seasons as a pro were with when he was with the Arizona Cardinals and paired with Larry Fitzgerald. As for opposing defenses, it was nearly impossible to put double coverage on both players because one would end up getting open for big plays and put up big numbers — something similar to what the Giants had when Nicks was productive along with Cruz. Pairing Boldin and Cruz for at least one season might be able to give the Giants that dynamic 1-2 punch it lacked over the last two seasons for Eli Manning.
Heading into the 2014 season, the most sensible thing will still likely be drafting a young and maybe even a tall wide receiver for Manning to head into the future, but for the time being, adding in a solid veteran who can produce immediately in Week 1 like Boldin is a possibility the Giants should consider heading into the free agent period.
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