FOXBORO -- It's a match that makes sense, in some ways.
The Patriots lost their best slot receiver when Julian Edelman tore his ACL two weeks ago. And Anquan Boldin -- who recently retired but is interested in playing with the Patriots, according to the Boston Globe -- has been at his best in the slot.
But pairing one with the other isn't that easy. Let's look at some of the factors that could be in play here . . .
Do the Patriots have a need? They recently brought Phillip Dorsett to New England via trade with the Colts, improving their depth at the receiver position. And while Dorsett projects more as an outside threat than an interior player, Bill Belichick has several players who are capable of playing in the slot. Will Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis combine to match Edelman's production inside? Impossible to say. But the Patriots have in-house options for the slot without turning to Boldin.
Would Boldin fit? He'll turn 37 in October. Clearly he's not the athlete he once was, but he was able to catch 67 passes for 584 yards and eight scores last year in Detroit by using his physicality and his understanding of how to uncover. He does not bring the kind of quickness the Patriots are used to in the slot, and he would in all likelihood fill in as the team's sixth receiver behind Brandin Cooks, Hogan, Amendola, Mitchell and Dorsett.
The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder would have to quickly figure out how to get on the same page as Tom Brady, but the Patriots are clearly not averse to bringing in receivers on the eve of the regular season -- as the Dorsett deal showed. Despite the difficulty with which new Patriots receivers sometimes have in picking up the offense, the team has been willing to import options even mid-season depending on their situation, as they did late last year with Michael Floyd.
Even if the two sides wanted to get something done, there would be barriers to bringing Boldin to New England. Perhaps the most significant would be that Boldin is on the Bills reserve/retired list. That means the Bills would either have to trade Boldin within their division or they would have to release his rights so that he could play elsewhere in the division.
Pro Football Talk says that the Patriots have shown no interest in acquiring Boldin in the aftermath of Edelman's injury, which makes sense. Regardless of how "intrigued" Boldin is, his contractual situation, his fit in the offense, and the Patriots' needs don't seem to align well enough to make this potential marriage a reality.