New Lion Anquan Boldin is ‘ultimate competitor’

James Hawkins
The Detroit News
Anquan Boldin

Allen Park – Lions safety Glover Quin remembers his battles with Anquan Boldin during his AFC days in Houston.

Come Friday afternoon, the pair will be going up against one another again, but this time as teammates when the Lions open their first training camp practice.

The Lions officially signed the veteran receiver to a one-year deal Thursday. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the contract is worth $2.75 million, plus incentives, and included a $750,000 signing bonus.

“He’s an ultimate competitor, experienced vet, toughness, grit, all those things,” Quin said. “That’s what it takes to play in this league for as long as he has. He’s won a Super Bowl and been in some big games, so he can help this team win some big games and hopefully bring that leadership and experience to us and help us.”

Boldin, 35, joins a receiving core that will be looking to move forward and overcome the loss of All-Pro Calvin Johnson, the franchise’s all-time leader in career receiving yards and touchdowns, to retirement. Boldin, a 13-year veteran, brings plenty of experience and boasts a resume that features seven seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and over 1,000 career receptions.

He proved he had enough left in the tank last season, leading the San Francisco 49ers in receiving yards (789) and receptions (69).

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“He’s a rare guy," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “There’s no question about that because there’s not many guys that still can put up the same numbers year in and year out.”

Boldin gives the Lions another sure-handed receiver to go along with Golden Tate and free-agent acquisition Marvin Jones, all of whom have had at least a 53.8 catch percentage every season in their careers.

“He’s a guy who knows how to win. Very tough, physical, savvy guy and he’s going to help us win and that’s what we want to do,” Tate said. “We got a lot of competition in our room and I think that’s how we’re going to get better with consistent competition. We’re excited to see what he can do and how he can help us.”

In addition to Boldin, Tate and Jones, veterans Andre Caldwell, Jeremy Kerley and Andre Roberts and up-and-comer TJ Jones will be competing for reps and building a rapport with quarterback Matthew Stafford at training camp.

“He has a long track record in this league of catching a lot of balls and playing in important games,” Stafford said of Boldin. “Not only that, but he’s a great guy in the locker room by all accounts.

“I think post-Calvin, it’s different obviously. I think Calvin is a Hall of Fame-type receiver, just the physicality of a 6-foot-5, 230-pounder you don’t have that anymore, but we got a lot of talented players. Some old, some young, some are at the prime of their careers, so I think we’re in a good place.”

The signing reunites Boldin with Caldwell, who served as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator during Baltimore’s Super Bowl-winning season in 2012-13.

“He’s maybe one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around in terms of just flat out competing against individuals on game day,” Caldwell said. “He just has a knack of setting a great tone. He fights for the ball, he makes tough catches. Does all the little things right. He’s also obviously a guy that's going to get after you on the block, as well.

“He’s going to add a few things. We’ll be able to move him around a little bit and he may play some inside, some outside, but we’ll kind of work it out and get him fit within the system.”

In addition to Boldin, the Lions also added linebacker Dominique Tovell. To make room on the roster, the team released linebacker Jerry Franklin and receiver Damian Copeland.