Anquan Boldin trade and Mike Wallace departure creates new landscape in AFC North

Jared Wickerham

Two big-time receivers leave the AFC North in 2013 - Baltimore traded Anquan Boldin to San Francisco Monday, and Mike Wallace is just a few hours away from signing a monster deal with Miami.

Baltimore decided to move on from wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his $6 million contract, trading him to San Francisco for a 2013 sixth round pick.

The specific trade itself may come as a surprise, simply because a trade wasn't necessarily expected. But Boldin leaving Baltimore as the team begins to move its pieces around its future isn't a surprise.

It does, temporarily, weaken the team's receiving group, but that loss will likely be recouped with a nice chunk of cap space in 2013, where the Ravens can pursue other free agents.

(AHEMWes Welker or Danny AmendolaCOUGH)

The clock will strike 4 p.m. ET today when black ink will stain white paper in Miami with the signature of Mike Wallace, ending the worst-kept secret in sports. Two of the best receivers in the AFC North will be on different rosters, looking to frustrate and decimate other teams twice a year.

Two things are readily apparent when looking back at the AFC North over the last five years - two teams have Super Bowl championships, two have not won a playoff game. The two teams with championships have franchise quarterbacks with big contracts. The other two do not.

The two teams that do not - Cleveland and Cincinnati in case you didn't figure that out - have invested not just in the quarterback position recently, but in wide receivers as well. Even with Wallace and Boldin back on their former (or soon to be former) teams, A.J. Green is without question the best receiver in the division. He's probably the MVP of the AFC North. Cleveland invested their 2013 second round pick in Josh Gordon, and he didn't fare too terribly in his rookie season despite the late start and lack of collegiate prep time.

The Ravens still have Torrey Smith on the cheap, and the Steelers locked up versatile slot receivers Antonio Brown last season. But the loss of a receiver a tough as Boldin, and a deep threat as lethal as Wallace, will no doubt change the offensive faces of the perennial powers in the AFC North.


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