The first domino of the annual offseason quarterback carousel fell on Feb.13, approximately one month before the new league year when the Baltimore Ravens agreed in principle to trade former franchise quarterback and Superbowl MVP Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a mid-round draft pick, which is believed to be in the fourth round.
There has been a lot of both skepticism and negative blowback surrounding this unofficial trade since no trade can be made official until the new league year officially starts on Mar.13 and until then all deals will not be formally recognized by the league and neither teams can comment on them until then.
Many members of the media have been highly critical of the move on the part of the Broncos’ general manager John Elway and applauded new Ravens’ general manager Eric DeCosta for being able to get some sort of compensation for the former face of their franchise and a signal caller that many believe has fallen off considerably since he cashed in following his incredible Superbowl run in the 2012 season.
They believe that this is yet another example of Elway trying to chase the ghost of Peyton Manning past in acquiring yet another veteran stop-gap quarterback just one year after removed from inking veteran Case Keenum to a two-year deal worth 36 million last offseason.
Keenum finished last year with a touchdown to interception ratio that was nearly even with 18 touchdowns and a career-high 15 picks. Some say that moving on from Keenum in favor of Flacco is not much of an upgrade and there are others that view it as plugging a whole with the same brand of duct tape or even a lesser version.
However, this comparison does not do justice to the consistency and championship pedigree that Flacco possesses, opposed to the man he will usurp in Keenum. Flacco has never been the type of quarterback to put up gaudy statistical numbers in the regular season, but he does do his best work in the postseason when it really matters most.
As a starter, the man nicknamed “Joe Cool”, for his calmness under pressure and when the odds are against him, is 10-5 a starter in the playoffs that includes an NFL record 7 road postseason victories.
While the highlight of Keenum’s career in the playoffs will go down as one of the miraculous in NFL history when he completed the “Minneapolis Miracle” to Stephon Diggs to send the 2017 Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship game, that would be the end of his magical run as his team was thumped by the eventual Superbowl champion Philadelphia Eagles the following week, bringing his playoff record to an even 1-1.
Flacco, on the other hand, has had plenty of success in the playoffs and played a huge part in some of the biggest moments in Ravens’ franchise history. None probably more memorable and improbable than the play he made against his new team in the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the 2012 postseason on the way to Baltimore’s championship run.
There’s no need to relive the “Miracle in Mile High”, but that is just one of the many examples of Flacco’s propensity to make meaningful plays when it counts the most. If the Broncos and their still stout defense, led by fellow Superbowl MVP Von Miller, can make it into the playoffs January Joe can lead them to the promised land.
He’s always been at his best when he has the requisite weapons around him to make the plays and the Broncos definitely have that with Pro Bowl running back Phillip Lindsey heading into his second season as the clear-cut lead back, dynamic receiver Emanuel Sanders coupled with young up and comers Courtland Sutton and Daesean Hamilton.
The final key for a quarterback like Flacco to have sustainable success is to have a solid offensive line in front of him that will provide him with a clean pocket and consistent pass protection so that he can use that strong arm to knife through that thin Colorado air.