The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to trade longtime starting quarterback Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. A trade cannot be officially completed until March 13 when the new NFL league year begins.
The Ravens have to be thrilled to get a midround pick for Flacco, who was out of their plans and likely to be released unless Baltimore found a trade partner. The compensation suggests there were multiple teams in for him or that new general manager Eric DeCosta managed to persuade the Broncos to negotiate against themselves. The Ravens will eat $16 million in dead money on their 2019 cap and then be rid of one of the worst contracts in modern NFL history.
After arriving from Delaware -- the minor leagues of football, Flacco would say -- in 2008, he brought stability and a Lombardi Trophy to a franchise that had changed quarterbacks almost as often as the Cleveland Browns. With toughness, resiliency and a shrug-of-the-shoulder demeanor, Flacco turned a team known primarily for defense into a perennial playoff contender.
» NFL.com’s Kevin Patra considers the Ravens’ front office, Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson winners in the deal.
Baltimore's front office: The Ravens, who might as well have placed a "QB for sale" ad on Zillow, couldn't have made it more obvious they were parting ways with Flacco. Baltimore telegraphed that the organization would end up cutting him if a proper trade partner couldn't be found. Head coach John Harbaugh openly discussed the end of the Flacco era. Credit new GM Eric DeCosta for generating fourth-round value out of a player the team had little use for in 2019. The $16 million in dead money stings, but that was coming regardless of how the Ravens parted ways. It's unknown at this point who, if anyone, the Broncos were bidding against for Flacco's services, but getting more than a late-round pick for a 34-year-old quarterback with durability questions is a boon for Baltimore.
This is a team that will have a first-time head coach (Vic Fangio), play-caller (Rich Scangarello) and quarterbacks coach (T.C. McCartney), second-year players in receivers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton and running backs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman and a to-be-determined offensive line. Flacco’s input with the game plan from Tuesday-Saturday and his leadership ability off the field will be critical.
There are three kinds of bad ideas in this world: typical bad ideas, truly terrible ideas and John Elway's quarterback ideas.
Elway's quarterback ideas are catastrophically misguided, inexplicably shortsighted, cripplingly expensive and intrinsically doomed. And each new idea is bigger, louder and more disastrous than the last.
It’s difficult to pigeonhole any of the other free agents into a similar system, which could put the Ravens in a position to take a third passer come draft time. Without a full arsenal of picks, they shouldn’t reasonably be able to consider a quarterback until at least the third round. However, this draft especially, with a wide array of talents and an even more wide open view on their pro readiness, could benefit them in the later rounds.
1) That Flacco’s arm, which has diminished some but not so much that he can’t still throw anywhere on the field, will give Scangarello unlimited options in aerial designs, which wouldn’t have been the “Case” with Keenum.
2) That Scangarello’s scheme can appropriately cater to the overly cautious approach that post knee-injury Flacco has adopted. If Scangarello is running a true [Kyle] Shanahan-style system (and Elway would not hire him if he weren’t), then many dropbacks will present the quarterback with a defined read.
On paper, this looks like a disaster for the Broncos, who have failed to find a suitable quarterback since Peyton Manning retired in 2016. Keenum had a down year in 2018 (ranking 29th in the league in passer rating, 28th in adjusted net yards per attempt, and 29th in QBR) and the Broncos are undeniably in need of a long-term answer at QB. But Denver’s thinking that answer is Flacco is confounding. Keenum’s career numbers are almost all a tick better than Flacco’s: He beats the former Raven in passer rating (84.5 to 84.1), adjusted net yards per attempt (5.80 to 5.66), and completion percentage (62.0 to 61.7).
» USA Today’s Mike Jones writes that the trade is the Broncos’ latest attempt to find the next late-stage Peyton Manning.
It’s the only trick that has worked during his eight-year stint as team president. The four-season foray with Peyton Manning produced the third Super Bowl title in franchise history. But the quest to find a long-term replacement for Manning remains ongoing. Elway missed on draft picks Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. And he has now admitted failure on Case Keenum, last year's free agent signing who went 6-10 and recorded 19 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions while directing an offense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in most statistical categories.