The Ravens asked Boldin to take a paycut in 2013, but the veteran receiver declined, putting the team in a tough spot. The Ravens wanted to create more salary cap flexibility, and cutting Boldin was an easy way to do it.
Because the Ravens made it clear that they would cut Boldin if he didn't accept a salary reduction, the team lost all leverage when it came to trading him. In fact, the Ravens probably did pretty well for themselves getting any draft pick in return when teams simply could have waited another 24 hours for him to become a free agent.
It's interesting that the Ravens traded Boldin before cutting Vonta Leach and/or looking to restructure some other contracts. Leach isn't even on the field for half of the offensive plays and it seems like the team is slowly moving toward even more one-back sets.
Losing Boldin is going to hurt the Ravens in more ways than one. He was one of team's leaders and most respected players, making him a terrific locker room presence.
His all-out, rugged style of play was a perfect fit for the smash-mouth Ravens. He was one of the best blocking wide receivers in the league, and he had no fear making catches over the middle. He made up for his lack of speed with great hands that could snatch the ball away from virtually any cornerback.
Boldin came up big when it mattered most, teaming with Joe Flacco to have a terrific postseason and come up with big catch after big catch. Without Boldin, the Ravens do not win the Super Bowl.
Some will point to the fact that the Ravens always seem to cut ties with their veterans at just the right time. However, cutting Boldin at age 32 isn't the same as when the team released Derrick Mason and Todd Heap. Mason was significantly older while Heap was never the same after suffering a sprained ankle injury.
The Ravens could go out and get another quality wideout to take Boldin's place, but the financial commitment is likely to be significant. It will be interesting to see what the Ravens do with the $6 million they will save by cutting Boldin and whether or not the move will pay off or cost them a chance at returning to the Super Bowl.