Courtesy of Albert Breer, Boston.com
As the Patriots hosted a group of free agents on Monday, you had to wonder if, when all's said and done, this question will hover over the offseason: What if Anquan Boldin had come here?
Finances, most certainly, played a role here, in that Boldin and Baltimore were able to work out a four-year, $28 million deal -- with $10 million guaranteed -- to ensure that the new marriage would get off on the right foot.
But the draft-pick compensation here makes this deal an interesting one to examine. New England gave up third- and fifth-round picks for Derrick Burgess in August. Baltimore surrendered third- and fourth-round picks for Boldin, and got a fifth-rounder back in the deal.
And since receiver has become a position of need in the same way pass-rusher was a need last year (after the failed pursuit of Jason Taylor), you have to wonder if the Patriots will, at some point, have to pay to make up the difference here the way they had to make up for swinging-and-missing on Taylor last year.
Yes, they signed David Patten, and yes, they brought in Josh Reed for a visit, but it's hard to believe they'll be able to find a difference-maker of Boldin's caliber, barring a highly unlikely run at an RFA like Brandon Marshall or Vincent Jackson. Remember, last year, the Patriots let Jabar Gaffney walk, and tried to fill the hole on the roster with Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis hoping one would pan out. Neither did, and they were left in the lurch.
Remember, we're still just five days in here. There's plenty of time to take care of the problem. But the team's options aren't quite what they were a couple days ago.