Former Ravens center Gino Gradkowski passes physical, trade to Broncos now official

Gino Gradkowski's physical checked out. He's an ex-Raven.

The Denver Broncos' trade for former Ravens backup center Gino Gradkowski is now official after he passed his physical Thursday.

The Ravens obtained the Broncos' 2016 fourth-round draft pick in exchange for Gradkowski and their 2016 fifth-round draft pick.

Gradkowski has had some issues with his knees, but not to the point where the Broncos' medical staff had sufficient concern to not clear him. He had arthroscopic surgery before last season.

"I felt great all year," Gradkowski said during a conference call. "I had my knee cleaned out after the 2013 season. Going into camp last year, I was feeling healthy and right now I feel better than ever. I can't wait to get started."

Gradkowski is projected to start at center for the Broncos. And he acknowledged having some extra motivation and emotions about being replaced last year by Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah.

"It was very difficult for me, but I came out of it a better player and a better person," Gradkowski said. "I have a chip on my shoulder now. I feel like I have a lot to prove and I can’t wait to get started with that.

“Just going a year without playing, kind of having all that held back. Obviously I only dressed about a little over half of the season. I feel fired up about that.”

Trading Gradkowski, a 16-game starter in 2013, saves the Ravens roughly $1 million against the salary cap.

Gradkowski hit an escalator clause heading into the final year of his rookie contract. He is due a $1.542 million salary, up from $660,000, and is expensive for a backup. His salary cap figure was $1.663 million.

Because of his high cap figure and being a reserve, Gradkowski was likely in a vulnerable roster situation if he hadn't been traded.

Now, Gradkowski has been reunited with Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, the former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubia.

“I think I fit his offense well, I think his offense fits me," Gradkowski said. "I’m very excited about being here with him. He’s a great coach and I really look forward to working with him again.

“I think it helps undersized guys, not that I would say that I’m undersized, but I’m smaller than some of the other centers in the league. I think it helps us with the movement and stuff like that.”

Gradkowski will be playing with one of the most cerebral and demanding quarterbacks in the league, snapping the football every play to Peyton Manning.

"It’s very exciting," Gradkowski said. "He is a guy that I’ve grown up watching and is one of the brightest players in the league right now. I’m really looking forward to learning from him and working alongside him. I know that he’ll make me a better player for sure.”

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