After merely 13 days as a member of the Buffalo Bills, wide receiver Anquan Boldin has decided that coming back to play for another season just wasn't for him.
Boldin shockingly has informed the Bills that he will instead retire from the National Football League. Boldin issued a statement through ESPN that read as follows:
"Football in its purest form is what we all strive for as a nation. People from all different races, religions and backgrounds working together for one shared goal. The core values taught in football are some of the most important you can learn in life. To always be there for the guy next to you and not let your fellow man down. You do whatever it takes to make sure your brother is OK.
Football has afforded me a platform throughout my career to have a greater impact on my humanitarian work. At this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority. My life’s purpose is bigger than football."
Boldin, 36, spent 14 seasons in the NFL before signing with the Bills on August 7. The Bills confirmed the retirement, and general manager Brandon Beane issued a statement of his own:
"We respect Anquan's decision to retire form the NFL. We appreciate the time he gave us over the past two weeks. He is one of the best receivers to play this game and we wish him and his family all the best moving forward."
The Bills resume practice for the first time without Boldin on Tuesday morning.
Joe B's Take
And you thought the newest episode of Game of Thrones would have the most shocking twist of Sunday night, didn't you? Not even having been with the team for two weeks, this news had to leave fans completely stunned as the weekend comes to a close.
For the Bills and their roster composition for 2017, it leaves an immediate void and a huge role with the team has just opened up for someone to take advantage of.
Without Boldin, the Bills top six wide receivers consist of the injured Jordan Matthews, rookie Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, the injured Rod Streater, Brandon Tate, and veteran Philly Brown. With no word on how severe Streater's toe injury is to this point in time, it makes for an immediate hole on the roster and the wide receiver group now becomes one of the thinnest positions on the team.
While Boldin had clearly lost a step and was mostly limited to duty in the slot on three wide receiver sets, he still offered a physical and rugged target over the middle of the field with dependable hands. So where do the Bills go from here?
Almost immediately, this likely transitions Matthews into the slot on three wide receiver sets, and as one of the two base wide receivers along with rookie Zay Jones. The Boldin news, plus the Streater injury, likely means that Andre Holmes will play a significant role for the Bills in 2017 -- at least until the Bills add anyone else to the position.
It handcuffs the Bills for a few different reasons.
First, this is now an entirely thinned out wide receiver group.
Second, the Bills no longer have the opportunity to bring the young Zay Jones along slowly. With the Watkins trade and now the Boldin retirement, he is now an indispensable part of the offense for Tyrod Taylor and company. That wiggle room is no longer available.
Third, this likely casts a lot of doubt on the notion of releasing Andre Holmes as part of the group of three players that would likely yield them an additional third-round compensatory selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Holmes, if the roster stays as its currently constructed, will be a top-three wide receiver, and will play on the outside in all three wide receiver sets.
While it's likely a good move to have Matthews back in the slot, it also puts an inferior player on the field and bumps up a player or two that otherwise would have been cut from the 53-man roster not even two weeks ago.
The Bills are hurting for solid players to round out the wide receiver room given the trades, retirement, and injuries, and I would fully expect them to reach out and try and find someone on the trade market, in free agency, or on waivers once the final roster cutdown day comes in early September.