Anquan Boldin had such a huge impact on the Lions last season, many thought the veteran wide receiver might be inclined to return to Detroit.
It didn’t happen.
Maybe Lions GM Bob Quinn knew something. Perhaps he didn’t think he could count on Boldin to stay with the team.
Boldin signed with the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 7. On Sunday (Aug. 20) he informed the Bills that he would retire after 14 NFL seasons, according to an ESPN report. In-between those dates the Bills traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams.
Boldin had been lining up in the slot with the first team in the 13 days that he was with the Bills.
Boldin issued a statement on Sunday that read: “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 caught 67 passes for 584 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016, his only year with the Lions. He was signed a day before 2016 training camp, stepped in and was almost immediately up to speed on the offense. He and Matthew Stafford were on the same wave-length from the get-go.
He ranks ninth in the NFL in all-time career receptions with 1,076.
The 36-year-old’s training regimen set a good example for the wide receivers and every player in the locker room.
The Lions don’t seem to be hurting for depth at wide receiver which could be a reason they did not bring back Boldin.
Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and rookie Kenny Golladay are locks for the 53-man roster, then look for a battle between TJ Jones, Jace Billingsley, Jared Abbrederis and Keshawn Martin for the remaining four or five spots.
The Lions are 2-0 in the preseason after a 16-6 win over the N.Y. Jets on Saturday night. Next up they’ll face the New England Patriots at 7 p.m. on Friday at Ford Field.