Former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will be playing for the Denver Broncos next season, as the Baltimore Ravens have agreed in principle to trade the 34-year-old quarterback.
The trade cannot be officially announced by the teams yet, as the new NFL league year doesn’t begin until March 13, and the transaction can’t be processed until then.
Both Teams Moving On at Quarterback
According to league sources cited by ESPN, however, the deal will likely see a mid-round draft pick head back to Baltimore in exchange for Flacco.
The move suits the purposes of both teams at the quarterback position. Denver has been disappointed with the performance of Case Keenum, who the Broncos signed on a two-year, $36 million contract after an impressive year with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017 in which he went 11-3 as a starter.
Keenum couldn’t recapture that magic in Denver. Last year, he was second in the NFL with 15 interceptions, while throwing for just 18 touchdowns and 6.6 yards per attempt. Adding Flacco could be an attempt to finally find a stable, reliable option at quarterback, a position the Broncos have struggled to fill since the retirement of Peyton Manning.
Baltimore Commits to Jackson
Meanwhile, Baltimore’s willingness to trade away Flacco shows that the team is fully committed to Lamar Jackson as their starting quarterback. Jackson took over for Flacco midway through the 2018 season, starting seven games and leading the Ravens to the playoffs. Baltimore lost in the first round of the postseason 23-17 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
While the exact nature of the trade isn’t yet known, the Ravens may have gotten a lot of value for Flacco if they do ultimately get a fourth-round pick in the deal. Flacco is owed a total of $63 million over the next three years, though none of that is guaranteed money. The move will save Baltimore $10.5 million in cap space this year – a big number for a quarterback who had been dropped into a backup role.
The Broncos will then take on a significant amount of salary for an aging quarterback who has never been an elite regular season performer, and in the process, be giving up on a younger quarterback after just one disappointing season.
Harbaugh: Flacco Can Still Play
But there are reasons Denver to be optimistic that Flacco could help them, at least in the short term. Flacco could be a good fit for offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who likes working with pocket passers and having them push the ball deep down the field.
Flacco also recently got an endorsement from Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who told reporters last month that he felt the quarterback still had a future as a starter in the NFL.
“Joe Flacco is going to play really well in this league,” Harbaugh said. “Joe can still play; I think we saw that in the first half of this season. Joe’s going to have a market. A lot of teams are going to want Joe, because they understand that.”
Bookmakers don’t see Flacco as having a major impact on Denver’s chances for success in 2019. While a few sportsbooks made minor adjustments after the trade, most left their odds on the Broncos the same as they were prior to the deal, with the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook giving Denver 60/1 odds of winning the Super Bowl both before and after the announcement.