Arizona Deserting What Anquan Boldin Deserves?

Before the 2008-2009 season started, the Arizona Cardinals supposedly promised Anquan Boldin a new contract, one that presumably would give him more than he is making now, a dollar value that is more representative of his talent in relation to other wide receivers in the NFL.

Instead, the Cardinals decided to give his teammate wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald a new four-year deal worth $40 million, forgot about their promise to Boldin, and ultimately upset Boldin along the way causing a major rift between he and the organization throughout the season.

As a matter of law, Boldin has no legal recourse against the Cardinals for their preseason contract promise.  Boldin is currently in the midst of his current four-year contract worth $22.75 million and the Cardinals had no obligation to restructure that based on a loose promise. However, by not doing so, they may have burned the bridge between the two sides as far as any future contract negotiations are concerned.

Boldin meanwhile will have to live up to the contract if he wants to get paid.  Before the season, he promised that he would not allow the contract issues to get in the way of how he approached the season and how he would play.  He held up to that promise as he finished the season with just seven receptions (89), one touchdown (11), and 300 yards (1,038 ) less than his counterpart, Fitzgerald– in four less games.  Does that make him worth almost $20 million less?  I don’t think so; and I think the Cardinals could patch things up with a lucrative contract offer after the Super Bowl.

After all, we’re talking about the wide receiver who was the fastest in NFL history to reach 400 receptions, doing it in just 67 games.

We’re talking about the guy who was the center of the Cardinals offense for the meat of the games this season that helped secure their playoff berth.  He had 10 catches for over 100 yards before breaking his FACE in Week 4 against the Jets.  He came back just three weeks later and continued right where he left off.  In those next five weeks, he scored six touchdowns while catching 46 passes for 513 yards.  The Cardinals clinched their division two weeks later.

The following week, Boldin hurt his leg which forced him to miss the final two games of the season.  He worked his way back for the first round matchup against Atlanta, but tweaked the leg on an impressive 71 yard touchdown run.  Boldin managed to be ready for the following week’s game, the NFC Championship game against Philadelphia, but saw limited action.

Near the end of the game, with the Cardinals down a point, Boldin was benched for more than half the team’s remaining plays, including their game winning drive.  It was during that time, Boldin was seen getting in a shouting match with offensive coordinator, Todd Haley.  After the win, Boldin did not celebrate with the team and bolted.

Boldin and the team call the situation, “nothing,” and something the media has blown way out of proportion.  Is it really nothing?

For an entire season, Boldin has played his tail off for an organization that has probably taken him for granted.  His numbers are very similar to Fitzgerald’s, despite not being paid similar money.  His teammates and coaches all believe Boldin is one of the better team orientated players in the league that works just about as hard as anyone as well.

So why doesn’t Arizona offer him the same money?

Personally, I think they had second thoughts on offering Boldin that kind of money when he was already under contract. There was no reason to carry through with such a promise, other than as a matter of principle and to appease Boldin and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.  Remember Rosenhaus is the same super-aggressive agent that represents Terrell Owens.  He has a reputation for requesting figures for his clients above the market value of players, and I’m sure the Cardinals were well aware of that too.  Boldin’s numbers were significantly less than Fitzgerald’s the year before and once the season began, I’m sure contract negotiations were the last thing they wanted to deal with in the midst of a season.  Especially, since Boldin was involved in what appeared to be a very serious injury in Week 4.  It was no longer reasonable to go out and make any contract negotiations at that point.

That being said, the Cardinals are in the Super Bowl and have seen how Boldin has reacted to the adversity this season.  He has been injured on and off the field and still managed to have a statistically comparable year to Larry Fitzgerald.  He has earned the respect of his teammates, and coaches, for being a team player and one of the hardest workers on the team despite knowing he should probably have a contract similar to Fitzgerald’s.

Here is one testimonial taken from a recent ESPN article: “I’m sure this season has been bittersweet for Anquan,” Cardinals defensive end Bert Berry said. “I’m sure he felt like he deserved the kind of money that Fitz got, but Anquan always has been a team guy. We’ve seen the way he’s responded to challenges, and we also know we’re a better team whenever he’s on the field.”

Based off of what kind of guy Anquan has been all season, I doubt the conflict with the offensive coordinator and organization all season long will have any impact on how the Cardinals approach the Super Bowl.  Boldin will certainly do his part.  The question is whether or not Arizona will do their part when it’s all said and done.

Do they desert his desire for a new contract or offer him that Fitzgerald-esque contract?  What do you think?

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