While still searching for the next franchise quarterback of the Broncos, the addition of Joe Flacco gives the option to be patient and win at the same time.
Little more is known about the terms of the exchange, as the trade cannot officially be completed until the new league year begins on March 13. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Ravens are expected to receive a mid-round pick for their former franchise quarterback.
But the big picture of the deal is clear. Joe Flacco will be a Denver Bronco next year, and early reports are that the Broncos intend to shop Case Keenum. Keenum signed a two-year deal in Denver last offseason, and finally had his first opportunity to be a full-time starting quarterback.
While there were flashes of Keenum being capable of running the offense, he could never kick the turnover habit – his 15 interceptions thrown were tied for second most in the NFL last year – and he lacked the deep throw ability so many offenses today want.
Now, the Broncos find themselves with the tenth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and it looks like John Elway has turned down the popular idea of putting all of a franchise’s eggs in the basket of a first round quarterback.
By signing Joe Flacco, Elway is giving himself a multitude of options for how to fix the Broncos’ still unstable quarterback situation.
For starters, maybe he doesn’t think anyone in this year’s draft is ready to start right away. Of the top five quarterbacks in this years’ draft – Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Missouri’s Drew Lock, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, Duke’s Daniel Jones, and West Virginia’s Will Grier – each have concerns related to their readiness to go from Big Man on Campus to the face of an NFL city.
So Elway still has the option to choose his quarterback of the future this April and let whoever that is develop under a veteran like Joe Flacco. But here’s another thing to consider: maybe Elway doesn’t like any of the guys in this draft, and would rather get the most out of a young roster oozing with talent in 2019 rather than wait (and hope) for a young guy to develop into a star.
By trading for Flacco, Elway is not married to him for life. His deal has three years left on it, and early reports are that the two parties don’t plan to restructure the contract. The addition of Flacco gives Elway stability at quarterback for the time being as well as more time to find a quarterback in a future draft if he chooses to pass on one this time around.
In fact, waiting until one of the next two drafts to take a quarterback in the first round might be the smarter option.
The 2020 draft’s quarterback class will feature Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, who likely would have been the first two quarterbacks taken in this year’s draft is either of them decided to leave college early.
Looking further ahead, if the Broncos still find themselves starving for a future at quarterback in 2021, they could find themselves in the sweepstakes for Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence or Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
The bottom line is that with the next two drafts projected to feature quarterback classes better than this year’s, giving the reigns to a former Super Bowl MVP as opposed to banking his job and reputation on a kid he isn’t fully invested in is a no-brainer for Elway, who is fully aware of the pressure from the Denver fan base to stabilize the position he was once so glorified for playing.