Signing Anquan Boldin gives Tyrod Taylor full deck in crucial season

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- As the Buffalo Bills look to evaluate Tyrod Taylor this season and make a determination about his future as their starting quarterback, it will help to have the best possible pieces around him to see what he can do.

Enter wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

The Bills signed the 14-year NFL veteran and future Hall of Fame candidate to a one-year, $2.75 million deal Monday that can be worth as much as $4 million if incentives are reached. Boldin's production has fallen off since 1,000-yard receiving seasons with the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and 2014, but the cost of the deal will be worth it if the Bills can get the red-zone production (eight touchdowns) that Boldin gave the Detroit Lions last season.

Will Boldin be the missing piece that helps get the Bills, whom ESPN's Football Power Index projects to win 6.7 games this season, over the hump and into the playoffs? At this late stage of his career, that seems unlikely.

However, Boldin offers a potential upgrade over Andre Holmes as the Bills' No. 2 receiver. After signing a three-year, $5.15 million deal in March, the 6-foot-4 Holmes has added height to the Bills' group of receivers but lacks the hands and physicality Boldin can offer. That is good news for Taylor, who worked with Boldin for two years (2011 and 2012) as the Baltimore Ravens backup.

Last season, Taylor dealt with a revolving door at receiver because of injuries to Sammy Watkins (eight games missed with a foot injury), Robert Woods (two games missed with a knee injury) and others. Shorthanded in November, the Bills signed Percy Harvin out of retirement -- only to have Harvin land on injured reserve with migraine headaches after playing in two games.

Taylor took a $10 million pay cut to remain with the Bills this offseason but made it clear he wanted help at receiver, especially after the departures of Woods and Marquise Goodwin in free agency.

"Hopefully we can bring in some guys [at receiver]," he told the Bills' team-produced radio show in March. "We definitely have some guys on the roster, as well, too. But the more talent, the better. I put my faith and my trust in the coaches and the management that they'll bring in some guys that can create some plays for us."

The addition of Holmes, who caught 28 passes during the last two seasons for the Oakland Raiders, was a start. Adding East Carolina's Zay Jones with the No. 37 pick in April's draft continued to help Taylor's cause. Now, with the preseason set to begin Thursday, Taylor's offense has received another injection of talent in Boldin.

Boldin's signing might be just what Taylor needs in order to cement his status as the Bills' long-term quarterback. If Boldin cannot help Taylor improve, there might not be any excuses for Taylor after three seasons in Buffalo.