Where he belongs: Boldin ready to fit in with hard-nosed Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ozzie Newsome has lamented his poor judgment about Anquan Boldin for years.

Newsome decided against selecting Boldin in the 2003 NFL Draft. Given the opportunity to make things right, the Baltimore Ravens' general manager couldn't resist trading for the three-time Pro Bowl pick.

The Ravens introduced their new primary wide receiver to the media Monday, and although Boldin signed a lucrative contract only minutes earlier, Newsome appeared to be the happiest man in the room.

"When Anquan came out in the draft, he was the subject of a lot of discussion in our war room," Newsome said. "Not too many times do you get a chance to recover from a mistake. I think I made a mistake in that draft, to worry more about measurables than about the football player. And what Anquan is is a football player."

On Friday, Newsome traded a third- and a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft to the Arizona Cardinals for Boldin and a fifth-round selection. After passing his physical, Boldin -- who was slated to receive $3 million in 2010 -- signed a new four-year, $28 million contract that includes a guaranteed $10 million.

"Arizona had been the only home I'd known professionally. I'd been there seven years and built a lot of relationships," Boldin said. "It's kind of hard to leave something like that. But in order for us to grow as human beings, change is necessary. And this is definitely a welcome change for me."

In his seven seasons with Arizona, Boldin had 586 catches for 7,520 yards and 44 touchdowns. He's the kind of player the Ravens sorely lacked: a physical, go-to wide receiver who can absorb a hit and dole one out, too.

Boldin is expected to enhance an inconsistent Baltimore passing game that last season ranked 18th.

"This is something we've been hoping for," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He fits us just perfectly. We're excited about what's in store."

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The union of Baltimore and Boldin might have happened years earlier, but Newsome decided against drafting the receiver out of Florida State because he had an injury-riddled college career. Boldin also ran the 40-yard dash in an unimpressive 4.71 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Arizona grabbed Boldin in the second round after Baltimore took defensive end/linebacker Terrell Suggs (10th overall) and quarterback Kyle Boller (19th) in the first round. Suggs became a star for the Ravens, while Boller was an occasional starter.

Since that draft, Newsome said he rarely passed up the chance to see Boldin in action, either on tape or on TV.

"I always enjoyed watching him -- the way he approached the game and the way he played the game," Newsome said. "Now I have the opportunity to watch him play for us in Baltimore."

Had Boldin run a faster time in the 40-yard dash in 2003, his career with the Ravens might have started much sooner.

"In that situation, I got blinded a little bit and didn't appreciate the football player as much as I should have," Newsome said. "It took me seven years, but I finally got it right."

Boldin spoke excitedly about being on a team known for its physical brand of football.

"It's a place that fits me. The guys they have here are hard-nosed, guys that want to win," he said. "They don't worry about the glory or anything like that. Those guys just want to get the job done, and I think I fit in perfectly with that."

Boldin spent much of his time in Arizona as a complement to Larry Fitzgerald. Boldin appears poised to be the Ravens' No. 1 threat, but he insists he only wants to be part of a winning formula.

"I just feel like I add a piece to this offense," Boldin said. "I wanted to go somewhere where, one, I had an opportunity to win a championship. I feel like I have that here. Two, a place that plays defense, runs the ball well and has a great young quarterback. I think Baltimore fits that to a T."

Boldin will catch passes from Joe Flacco, whose primarily target last season was running back Ray Rice. The Ravens' top priority this offseason was to bolster their receiving corps, and they appear to have done just that by adding Boldin and free agent Donte' Stallworth.

Boldin had 84 catches for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns last season with the Cardinals. He's also known as a solid blocker, which also should enhance Baltimore's running game.

Boldin will move from the NFL West to the AFC North, but he won't need a motivation speech to gear up for the Ravens' rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I'm seeking a little revenge on Pittsburgh anyway," he said. "They beat us in the (2009) Super Bowl. So I'm definitely looking forward to that matchup."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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