The Buffalo Bills should sign Anquan Boldin.
There, I said it.
With Sammy Watkins nursing a broken foot and Robert Woods the only proven commodity behind him in the team’s wideout group, Rex Ryan’s club would be better off if it added a dependable veteran.
Boldin and Bills’ offense coordinator Greg Roman have a history. The two were members of the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and 2014.
Here are Boldin’s stats while playing in Roman’s offense for those two seasons:
At 33 years old, Boldin's 9.13 yards per target in 2013 was the highest figure he's accomplished in his entire, illustrious NFL career. Seriously.
For perspective on that yards-per-target number, Sammy Watkins' current career average is 9.05.
Even in 2014, as Colin Kaepernick's efficiency waned, Boldin averaged 8.15 yards per target, which is fairly even with the yards-per-target average in many of his other seasons.
Boldin’s 2,241 receiving yards playing in Roman’s scheme in San Francisco was the most he accumulated in a two-year span since... 2005 and 2006 with the Arizona Cardinals while in his mid-20s.
In 2015, without Roman, during a season in which the 49ers felt the aftershock of their immense talent drain, Kaepernick went completely off the rails, and Blaine Gabbert started eight contests, Boldin was the team’s leading receiver with 69 catches, 789 yards and four touchdowns on 111 targets.
Boldin turns 36 on October 3 this year but hasn’t shown noticeable signs of slowing down.
Coach-player connections go along way in the NFL, and the familiarity between Roman and Boldin would be critical for Buffalo, not only by way of improving the chances to sign the potential future Hall of Famer but in knowing the Bills’ offense coordinator understands how to properly utilize the receiver. Also, Boldin’s grasp of Roman’s offense would be a nice luxury, especially if the acquisition happens later in the summer.
The battle for the Bills’ No. 3 WR job has and will be a oft-discussed topic over the next few months, and we outlined the current candidates in early June.
In that article, notice that four of the six pass-catchers — Greg Little, Jarrett Boykin, Walt Powell and Dez Lewis — did not record a single receiving statistic in 2015.
A season ago, Greg Salas had three grabs for 41 yards in two games for the Bills, and Leonard Hankerson recorded 26 receptions, 327 yards and three scores in 10 games with the Falcons.
One of those six players — throw in rookie Kolby Listenbee as well — could emerge in training camp or the preseason, but at this juncture, the Bills are counting on one of a myriad of relatively unproven castoffs to take a large leap and become, at the very least, a reliable secondary contributor.
(Though not official, it’s worth noting that Lewis likely heads into training camp with a slight lead in this competition.)
No, the third wideout isn’t a vital piece of the Bills offense, but with Boldin, Buffalo would know what it’d be getting and wouldn’t be crossing its fingers for sudden player improvement.
Beyond that, Boldin has remained a monster in contested-catch situations. That ability deteriorates considerably slower than speed does for receivers. Check around the rest of the NFL. Though he can’t separate nearly as much or as frequently as he did in the past -- was never a speedster -- even when Boldin finds himself in tight coverage, or defensive coordinators scheme to specifically stop him, the 6’1" receiver can still be productive because of his incredibly strong hands and body control.
(Let’s not forget his possibilities as a mentor.)
Entering his 14th NFL season, Boldin may want to be signed later into training camp. However, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the Bills to sign him soon, let him begin camp with the team to create chemistry and develop timing with Tyrod Talor then give him the occasional veteran’s day off in mid-August.
(Per OverTheCap.com, the Bills have just over $12 million in cap space.)
While he isn’t an offensive cornerstone anymore, Boldin undoubtedly can still play and just might be the boost Taylor and the Bills’ offense will need to reach the playoffs this season.