After an illustrious 11-year career as a Baltimore Raven, Joe Flacco awoke Wednesday morning to the news that he had been traded to the Denver Broncos. In his tenure as a Raven, Flacco led Baltimore to six playoff berths and a Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers (where he was crowned Super Bowl MVP). Further cementing his place in Raven’s history, Flacco leaves the Ravens as their all-time leader in passing yards, touchdown passes, and wins (with a 96-67 career record).
While this trade is likely to have caught many Broncos fans by surprise, the same cannot be said for Ravens fans. Despite his past success, Flacco concluded his 2018 NFL season in a very unfamiliar position, riding the bench behind rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. After beginning the season with 12 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and a 4-5 record to boot, John Harbaugh made the executive decision to sit his former No. 18 overall pick in favor of the rookie phenom, Jackson. A decision that paid off in full. Jackson led the Ravens to their first playoff berth since 2014, putting up an impressive 6-1 regular season record before falling to the Chargers in the AFC Wild Card Round. For Ravens fans, their future was clear, and it did not include Joe Flacco (at least as a starter).
In exchange for the former Super Bowl MVP and “elite” level quarterback, the Broncos sacrifice very little in their 2019 4th round draft pick. In fact, after securing a comparable 4th round pick from the Texans in the trade of WR Demaryius Thomas earlier in the season, the Broncos enter the 2019 Draft having essentially swapped Thomas for Flacco. By all accounts, this is a win for the Denver franchise. Having unsuccessfully bet on former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum during the 2018 offseason, who led the team to an abysmal 6-10 record, throwing for 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, this trade affords the Broncos the opportunity to potentially win now and invest in their future. Denver absorbs the remaining $63 million (over three years) of Flacco’s contract, while providing themselves the ability to shop Keenum throughout the remainder of the offseason. Worst case scenario for the team, Keenum finishes out the 2019 season as a formidable backup to Flacco (costing the team $18 million), before entering free agency. Adding to the upside of the trade, should Flacco not pan out, none of his contract money is guaranteed, meaning the team can move on at any point in time with limited negative impact on themselves.
The trade will not technically go into effect until the new NFL league year begins on Wednesday, March 13th, yet, as things stand now, it appears that this mutually beneficial deal allows both franchises to position themselves in contending position for the upcoming season absent concerns related to excess salary expenditure. One thing is for certain, this blockbuster trade is the first of many exciting transactions sure to take place over the next six months.