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Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

The Ravens have agreed in principle on a deal to trade Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos. Compensation is as yet unknown but will likely be a mid-round pick. The king of failed completions heads to Denver, and Case Keenum will likely be cut after just one season with the Broncos. This is an upgrade on throwing the deep ball, but is it an upgrade in any other way? Flacco last year was 16th in passing DVOA, which is nice but was also just half a season and was much better than his last three seasons.He had ranked 26th or lower in 2015, 2016, and 2017. I think those three seasons are a better guide to his current quality than the smaller sample size of one half season.

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78 comments, Last at 20 Feb 2019, 4:19pm

4 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Not a good move. Flacco was better statistically than Keenum last year, but the season before that he was one of the worst in the league while Keenum was first in DVOA and 4th in DYAR. I would rather have Keenum than Flacco for sure.

As an aside, the massive dropoffs Alex Smith and Keenum both experienced last season when they moved to new teams really shows how huge scheme and teammates are in a QB's performance. Of course, most NFL media will often give practically sole credit to QBs for how teams perform.

7 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Keenum's 2017 season was such a ridiculous outlier, there was almost zero chance of him repeating anywhere close to that level on a less talented team. Still, there was some logic in Denver hoping he could provide at least average play, at manageable cost, whilst they waited for a more enticing option.

Now a year later giving up assets to replace him with Flacco, who is older, and has been no good (and severely injured) since 2014 is wishful thinking at best.

So yes I agree, bad move.

9 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

I think the best QBs are indeed capable of putting a team on their back. Peyton Manning's last (healthy) year as a Colt springs to mind.

These guys, however, are different flavours of replaceable mediocrity. Replacing Keenum with Flacco is probably close enough to a wash that you should just take whichever you feel is a better scheme fit; giving up a draft pick to make the change, however, seems like a waste.

13 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Leaving Tom Brady to the side because his situation is more complicated;

I think there is a limit to what even the best qbs can accomplish. Brees could not elevate the saints beyond 8-8 when the offensive talent had ebbed and the defense had become a nuclear wasteland.

This year, Aaron Rodgers could not stave off a the malaise either.

17 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

I'll maintain that the Colts roster in Manning's last healthy year there was at best a 5 win team with an average starting qb. It is a gigantic outlier, but I really think Manning added a minimum of 5 wins, and carried them to the playoffs. I also think it is a mistake to say only a qb can have that impact. in 2012, if you swap out Adrian Peterson for an average NFL starting rb, I think a team with The Ponderous One, not much for receivers, an o-line which started Charlie Johnson (picked up from 2010 Colts!), and a bad defensive backfield, would have sunk from 10 wins, to no more than 6.

31 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

But prime Peterson also played all or most of a 6-10 2010, 3-13 2011, and a 5.5 win 2013.

They were able to go 7-9 with 1 game from him in '14.

You couldn't go wrong with either him or Joe Thomas in the 07 draft, but neither was close to as valuable as a franchise qb.

39 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

I was not arguing that other positions are as important as qb. I was arguing that players at positions other than qb can have a large impact on a team's win total, in a single season. Performance is not a constant, even with great players in their prime, especially at running back, given the pounding. The 2014 roster was much better than that of 2012, and the coaching was much better. If it had been given the benefit of the 2012 Adrian Peterson? 11 or 12 wins would have easily been in reach. Your comment on quarterbacking just strengthens the point about how good Peterson was in 2012. Christian Ponder was beyond awful, he had little to throw to, and the o-line was bad enough that Charlie Johnson was a starter. The defensive backfield was terrible. With an average running back (keep in mind that Peterson gained 1369 yards that year AFTER contact), they would have been a team that couldn't pass well, couldn't run well, and couldn't cover anybody. 5 or 6 wins would have been the likely result.

8 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

It seems like when Paxton Lynch famously flamed out, John elway lost his stomach for young quarterbacks. Bradley Chubb is a great pick, but again you lose the chance to draft a future quarterback when you do that.

I'm not sure what he's trying to accomplish anymore. This move barely delays the inevitable while sending mixed signals. Are the broncos in win now or are they in a rebuild? Or is elway hoping to strike gold in the free agent quarterback market again?

57 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Id be interested in seeing an alternate universe where Manning retires from football instead of joining the broncos. It might not be hyperbole to say the Patriots are 8 time superbowl champions and the Broncos never enjoying a single winning season since Mike Shanahans's tenure ended.

46 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

I think his distaste for young QB's stems from an overall misunderstanding of his team. Elway seems to be convinced that this team is the 2014 Broncos, and that they will be instant Super Bowl contenders if they can just get near-average QB play a la Brock Osweiler and washed-up Peyton Manning. That's why he's been pursuing quick fixes like Cousins, Keenum, and Flacco. What he doesn't seem to realize is that the defense has slipped from dominant to merely good, the offensive line is leaky (21st in pressure rate last year), and that he's held the team back ever since their Super Bowl win with his inability or unwillingness to secure a good option at QB. Instead he's slapping the world's most expensive bandaid on the problem and calling it a day.

54 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

That's the basis of Mike Tanier's article on the trade.

I'd add that having binned Vance Joseph* Elway's probably now convinced himself that VJ was entirely responsible for the team's failures. Certainly there can't be anything wrong with the players he gives his HC.

* Was mistakenly going to say Vance Johnson. I'm sure at some stage Elway will be contacting him about potential roles in the organisation.

10 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Good move for the Ravens. Get Flacco out of there and remove any future QB controversy. At least they now have to make it work with Lamar Jackson, or go back to the draft.

I don't know how Elway saw this as a good move. Has anyone respected Flacco as a QB in the past 5-6 years?

I guess the positive is that Fangio gets a "his guy" to work with from the beginning and maybe Flacco has decent leadership skills that will get everybody on the same page as the coach. And I guess Elway must have his eye on someone in the draft who can bench warm for half a season or so.

14 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

This isn't aimed at you at all, but the line " Flacco has decent leadership skills" is one I've seen thrown out a lot.

I'm always miffed at how easily people run to this defense. So and So's leadership will bring out unmeasured benefits. Well, at best they are so marginal that it barely moves the needle - or worse - they are contingent on the ability to be good. Flacco's leadership qualities didn't exactly move many needles in Baltimore and no amount of Eli Manning mysticism has helped the moribund Giants.

Give me an awful leader who can play( anyone care to throw out a name?) vs a hero in the locker room who can't put up points(maybe Tebow?)

16 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

This isn't aimed at you, either, but I live in Baltimore, and nobody in this town says " Flacco has decent leadership skills". What you hear is a lot of apologizing for the fact that he doesn't have traditional leadership skills at all.

As for awful leaders who can throw, consider Jeff George or Jay Cutler.

18 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

I'll add Jay Schroeder to the good arm / poor leader. He was a Pro Bowler in 1986 with over 4,000yds in an era when that was a rarity.

(Thanks for the clarification on Flacco's leadership skills. In that case, I'm really stumped on why Elway did this other than he'd prefer to keep rolling the die)

22 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

This makes me wonder how we should view Lebron James as a leader.

I don't think its controversial to say that Lebron faciliates coaches being fired, players being traded, and general cultural dysfunction. The cavs seemingly every year under Lebron were an unhappy melodrama despite being a 50 win team. That he's a great player who can use his herculean level talents to elevate a team show me that the leadership stuff is somewhat overrated. I think Lebron is probably a terrible leader.

15 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Now that I think about it. Elway should just publicly say - we are going to have a seat warmer at qb until Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers is looking for a last pit stop at the end of their careers.

19 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

In terms of overall QB quality, Flacco is basically an older Keenum that you have to pay in draft picks and salary, right? Why even entertain the idea if you're the Broncos?

21 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

The only thing that makes any vague sense to me is that the agent has a wink, wink,, nudge, nudge agreement with Elway to lower Flacco's cap number this year and next year.

37 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

In general I don't mind the 'throw shit and see what sticks' approach for QB needy teams, even if they are paying a premium. Houston, for example, siphoned through various garbage at QB before signing Brock Osweiler to that ridiculous looking contract, was terrible, but they were able to cut bait soon after, trade up to draft DeShaun Watson, and now they are satisfied.

But at least Osweiler was young and had potential upside. The very best you could hope for with Flacco is average play for a couple more years, and the rest of Denver's team certainly isn't good enough to carry him. If they were that desperate to move on from Keenum, in a thin free agent market, grabbing a low cost veteran like Tyrod Taylor or Bridgewater would be far more sensible.

24 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Strongest possible argument is...

He's a great scheme fit for the scheme direction they're going on, he's intended to be a bridge quarterback, his "bridge" is longer than Keenum's (who was on a two-year contract), his contract will be reworked to be cheaper than Keenum's, and he has more upside than Keenum who had one fluky good year.

Counters to that are... isn't that same offensive scheme a better fit for Keenum as well? And Keenum is younger and more durable. You can always extend Keenum another year, for probably cheaper than his well-timed (for him) contract last year.

26 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Makes no sense for Denver unless flacco is willing to cut his salary by half or more.

Honestly, anything more than a 7th pick is overpaying for flacco. His 18.5 m salary is palatable as a one year Gap. So if your team needs that then maybe.

But Denver doesn't count, keenum is in the same bridge and paying him 18 to play vs 11 million to go elsewhere is obvious.

27 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

This could make sense (because I'm looking for one good thing about this) if the Broncos had good WRs and TEs who could beat DBs deep. But they traded Thomas to Houston and Sanders, their best remaining WR was injured last year. Flacco can do one thing really well and that's throw deep. I don't think DaeSean Hamilton or Courtland Sutton are that WR. I agree with the comment that Elway just seems to be throwing whatever and seeing what sticks. Maybe he'll draft Haskins or Lock or Jones or ... no, I just can't see him drafting Murray.

28 2019 fourth-rounder!?!

NFL.com is reporting Denver is giving up their 2019 fourth rounder for DPI Jump Ball Joe.

34 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Apart from giving a 4th to acquire a 34 years old with a couple of good seasons in his career (career spent in a solid organization, in a team with a perennial good defense), there is no way I am bailing out a potential conference rival from a bad contract situation.

I'd rather convert the 4th to two 5 th and picking two/three random Qbs in the draft and let them compete with Keenum in the camp.

35 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

I’m surprised at all the negative comments, especially because this is a stats-oriented site, when there’s an obvious statistical advantage to replacing Keenum with Flacco: height.

Case Keenum is 6’2. Joe Flacco is 6’6. (These statistics come from this year’s FO almanac.) That’s a full four inches of advantage, which is huge. Flacco has a much greater clearance over the defense line, so he can see receivers better. And with a taller starting point for his throws, he can throw downhill to hit the receivers with power.

You might laugh at this point, but consider this year’s playoffs. Patrick Mahomes supposedly is the Next Big Thing, but he’s 6’2”. Tom Brady is 6’4”, so it’s no wonder he won the AFC championship. And while Jared Goff also is 6’4”, Brady has more experience as a tall quarterback, so he won the height tiebreaker and the big game. (And height explains why Goff beat diminutive Drew Brees in the NFC championship.) So if Brady is so great, why did he lose the Super Bowl the previous year? Easy – Nick Foles is 6’5”.

Some naysayers and skeptics will say that height is overrated and that reading defenses is more important. I’m not going to say that height is the only factor or deny that reading defenses helps, but the simple fact is, you can’t teach height. That’s the genius QB insight of John Elway, stemming of course from his own success as a 6’3” player (I know that’s shorter than some of the names above, but remember that Elway competed in an earlier age, when players were shorter. It’s risky to compare these things across generations.) Elway put this into practice by dumping 6’3” Tim Tebow for 6’5” Peyton Manning, and just looked what happened! So John must be hoping that Lightning Strikes Again.

I bet some of you are thinking, “well, what about Elway’s draftees Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch – they were both 6’7!” To repeat, height isn’t everything, and there’s an obvious counter-factor here: names. Joe Flacco is like Joe Namath or Joe Montana – that’s an honest, winning name (why else did all three QBs win Super Bowls?). It’s tough to imagine a QB named “Brock” being a leader of men. I mean there was Brock Huard and Dieter Brock, but they weren’t so hot and it’s a tough name to overcome. As for Paxton Lynch, who ever heard of a great football player named “Paxton”?

50 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

I’m surprised at all the negative comments, especially because this is a stats-oriented site, when there’s an obvious statistical advantage to replacing Keenum with Flacco:

Cool! Let's look at this statistically!


(Jaw is dropping.)

Denver of all places shouldn't be wowed by height at this point. If they'd wanted height they could have used Paxton Lynch or Brock Osweiler.

70 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

It seems I captured NFL actual thinking more than I thought. From today’s ESPN column by FO alum Bill Barnwell about the moves the Giants should or may make this offseason, in explaining who the team may sign to replace Eli Manning:

“While he lacks the Giants’ preferred height, Case Keemun excelled under Pat Shurmur’s tutelage....”

“If the Giants don’t want to take Kyler Murray because he’s under 6 feet...”

43 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

>> I think those three seasons [2015-7] are a better guide to his current quality than
>> the smaller sample size of one half season [in '18].

Maybe. Probably, even. But Flacco DID have the knee injury and the back problems in '15-17. This past season was the first one he was healthy for the whole OTA cycle & training camp etc. The Ravens also had big issues with injuries on the O-line in '17, and talent deficits at the skill positions.

Point being, there is some excuse for believing that Flacco in Denver can be closer to what he showed this past season, than what he showed the three seasons before. Not saying I would bet the mortgage on it or anything; but there are things for Broncos fans to hang their hopes on.

I'm a Ravens fan; this trade is about the best possible outcome of the Flacco situation, for Baltimore. It's a dignified exit for Flacco: a respectable return on a trade (not a conditional 7th or anything like that) rather than getting cut. Situation doesn't drag out, embarrassing either party. The pick itself is valuable. Good stuff.

For Joe – well, Denver is beautiful. The Broncos WR group might be better than anything he's had in Baltimore since the Super Bowl. If they can steal a win from San Diego or KC, hopefully the fans will get on his side. I hope he loves it there. They need a tight end, though.

Clearly a mistake for the Broncos, I think. Not that Flacco makes them worse – I think Flacco will be a bit of an upgrade over Keenum – but just the opportunity cost of delaying their rebuild and getting older & more expensive and parting with the draft pick. They're going to be looking up at Mahomes in the division for years; this move doesn't make the Broncos WORSE, but it puts for another season or two them doing the work required to truly compete.

51 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Getting the feeling that Elway doesn't have the kind of long-term vision needed to bring the Broncos back to the top. When he took over, the Broncos were just a small distance from being champions, and Elway brought in the high-priced talent needed to get to the top. But most of the time team-building doesn't work that way.

53 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Seems like a big win for the Ravens. Perhaps some validation that the new GM is OK and they won't suffer too much from the retirement of Ozzie.

65 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Seriously, would it be possible to elect Ozzie to the Hall of Fame a second time, for his achievements as a GM (and as a class act)? I knew he was a great player but did not realize until I checked that he already had been elected for his playing skill in 1999.

Bill James used to write about baseball players with the best combination of qualities, like power \ speed, calculated using a harmonic mean formula. Could Ozzie be the best combination of player \ management? Lombardi was an excellent college player but he did not have a pro career, nor did Belichick or Walsh or Joe Gibbs. I didn't know until I looked it up, but Shula had a short but good DB career. Perhaps Tom Landry or George Halas (an all star during the 1920s). I'm sure I'm skipping over someone (and I don't mean Elway, although to be fair if he gains more success he would deserve to be in the conversation).

66 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Dick Lebeau would have to be up there, as a HoF cornerback and one of the best defensive coordinators of the last few decades. Also Mike Ditka was a HoF tight end and a Super Bowl-winning head coach, though there's probably at least as much evidence that he was a bad coach as there is taht he was a good one.

69 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

You have to wonder what might have happened if Art Modell could have gotten over his personal distaste for Bill Belichick and kept him in the fold in Cleveland/Baltimore. Newsome and Belichick would have to be the greatest gm/coach combo in history, right?. For all sad words of tongue and pen...

71 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Bud Grant won a championship in the NBA with the Lakers, then he moved to the NFL's Eagles and led them in sacks as a DE in his 1st year and was 2nd in the NFL in receiving in his 2nd year. He then went to the CFL and was an all-star as a player and coached Winnipeg to championships.

As I recall Chuck Noll was a "messenger guard" on Paul Brown's championship winning Cleveland teams.
Tony Dungy was a backup DB in Noll's SB-winning backfield circa XIV.
John Madden was drafted as a guard and then ripped up his knee so never played.
Marty Schottenheimer was a linebacker for the Bills who created problems when it was first decided to put names on jerseys.
Bill Cowher played for Marty in Cleveland.
And while we're here let's not forget that Herm Edwards was famous for the Miracle in the Meadowlands.

The only recent coaches I can think of who got decent playing time (as opposed to backup QBs like Kubiak, Garrett, Reich, Kingsbury) are Jack Del Rio and Ron Rivera. Plus a bit of Mike Singletary. All of their careers were in the 80s.

There may be others but these days coaches tend to come straight out of college without playing careers. It gives them an extra ten years honing those skills rather than playing.

61 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

Tanier's article seems pretty lazy to me. It's so married to the "Elway thinks the team is one journeyman QB away from the super bowl!" that it's not really even considering simpler or more obvious explanations.

Elway's on record as seeing as viewing FA as where you fill your holes, while the draft is for the future. Given that, the Flacco move is no reason to believe Elway's any less committed to finding a quarterback-for-the-future.

So the question is, what is Elway supposed to do? He can't do nothing. It's not unreasonable to believe Flacco a better option than Keenum. Debatable, but not unreasonable. Plus, Flacco's contract lasts longer than Keenum's, and is non-guaranteed to boot. But it doesn't mean Elway now believes he's done looking at quarterbacks.

In the draft, Elway's either going to draft a QB early or he's not. If he doesn't, the Broncos have a slightly longer "QB Bridge" (since Flacco's contract doesn't expire next year) to help with drafting a QB the next year. And if he does, then it disproves this whole "Elway thinks Flacco is the answer" theory anyway.

The more interesting judgment will be whether Rosen proves to be more valuable than Chubb. If so, that's a choice that will definitely reflect badly on Elway.

68 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

"So the question is, what is Elway supposed to do? He can't do nothing."

Why can't he do nothing? Or at least nothing major and drastic.

What about the possibility that Keenum could have been a better QB in his 2nd year with the Broncos? Of course with a new HC coming in, it's all going to be a learning curve for everybody.

Maybe Elway not making a change would give some stability and allow people to settle into their jobs. Of course as a franchise QB he'll never have known how instability affects lesser mortals.

The "he can't do nothing" is the same fallacy that we marked down owners like Dan Snyder, Al Davis and Jimmy Haslam for constantly changing headcoaches. And note that Elway is now on his 4th HC in 6 years.

60 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

J. Flacco will ehlp broncs beat cheifs and chargers miore than Keenum codul. so this very good move for Raiders here. Raiders have better degense to combat Flacco. ultimatelty not big help for Broncos here. Only true winner in afc wets with thuis move is Raiders. Brings Chiefs and Charegrs back to pack more which helps Raiders.
As things sit at this very moment, would say Raiders and Chiefs in battle for 1st placwe, chargers in 3rd and broncos live dog 4th place tema.

77 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

LOL - I'd be shocked if the Raiders and Broncos aren't vying for the AFC West basement this year. The Chiefs had one of the worst defenses in the league last year, and still managed to win the division. The Chargers are the only logical challenger to KC right now. The Raiders don't even have a place to play right now, and the Broncos just got older, and their D is not what it once was.

64 Re: Ravens Trade Joe Flacco to Denver

After mulling it over, I can get on board with this trade.

There are 2 likely outcomes here; either Flacco performs like he did when healthy the first half of 2018 (better odds than I'd have given Keenum), in which case, the team is a likely playoff team, OR, Flacco performs like he did during 15-17, in which case, the Broncos get a higher draft during next years draft, which looks stronger than this draft for QB's.