Newsome isn't afraid to cut ties with guys sooner rather than later, and that philosophy has worked well in the past with players like Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. It could be argued it worked well this past offseason with safety Ed Reed.
However, trading away Anquan Boldin for virtually nothing, a deal I felt was a huge mistake at the time, came back to haunt the Ravens.
Make no mistake about it, the Ravens missed the playoffs because their offensive line was terrible. They were historically bad running the football, which obviously put a lot of pressure on the passing game. That said, Boldin had a terrific season with San Francisco, and especially given Dennis Pitta's injury, was missed dearly in Baltimore.
The Ravens had trouble moving the chains on third down, which meant their defense spent a lot of time on the field. Boldin is the kind of player who can make the tough catch and keep a drive alive. The offense was awful in the red zone in the second half of the season, another area where Boldin thrives.
The team also missed his leadership, his fire, his physicality, his intensity and his swagger. With so many leaders being jettisoned or retiring, the Ravens really had a void in that area throughout the season. Boldin also brought a certain swagger and physicality to the field, which is something else the Ravens missed, especially with Bernard Pollard being released as well. The Ravens went from a hard-hitting team that beat up the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl to being a pretty soft group in 2013.
While Boldin's salary for 2013 was the main reason for trade, a look back shows ways in which the Ravens could have held onto him and still been under the cap. The Ravens brought in Michael Huff, who was a complete bust and didn't even make it halfway through the season, forcing Matt Elam to play out of position. Marcus Spears was also released after failing to make an impact with his play and ruffling feathers by critizing defensive coordinator Dean Pees. The team also spent money on Vonta Leach, who hardly saw the field.
Newsome didn't swing and miss on the offseason entirely, as the pick-up of Daryl Smith proved to be a major addition. Chris Canty provided depth along the defensive line despite having less of an impact than anticipated. He also didn't panic when Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams cashed in on the free agent market. All three players failed to live up to their contracts, and Newsome ultimately signed Elvis Dumervil to a cheaper deal than Kruger received from the Cleveland Browns.