NFL: Breaking Down the Flacco Trade

The Baltimore Ravens are finally moving on from Joe Flacco and he’s headed to the Denver Broncos.

Here’s a look at how it came to happen and what the implications might be for each team:

Flacco’s History: 2008-2018

Drafted by the Ravens in 2008, Flacco has been with the team for 11 seasons. Throughout his tenure, he has taken the team to the playoffs several times, including as a rookie. Most notably, he had a particularly impressive run at the end of the 2012 season on his way to becoming a Super Bowl MVP.

However, after that run, he has had a series of mediocre seasons mixed with a range of injuries. He’s had ACL, MCL, and back injuries. Although his play has been spotty in the past few years, there has also been some question as to the quality of his surrounding talent. Yet,that’s not an excuse we see for the top quarterbacks in the league, who are praised for being able to lift those around them and make up for their deficiencies.

All of these things led to the Ravens being at a crossroads. There were rumors of their head coach John Harbaugh potentially being released over the past few seasons. Questions about Joe Flacco were becoming more persistent. And in the 2018 draft, an opportunity presented itself. The Ravens pulled the trigger and took Lamar Jackson at the end of the first round.

The Lamar Jackson Era

Throughout the first half of the 2018 season, Flacco remained the starter. Jackson was rolled out on a few plays, but never took charge for a drive or more. While the Harbaugh rumors were growing, it was becoming evident that Flacco was not the player he once was. The team was winning, but only because they were being carried by their defense.

Then, in Week 9, Flacco sustained a hip injury and the Ravens were forced to turn to Jackson. It led to a dynamic running game and the Ravens returned to the playoffs with Jackson as the starter. Harbaugh’s contract was extended and the team sent a clear message that Jackson was the future.

At this point, it became clear that Flacco’s days in Baltimore were numbered. But while the Ravens had a surplus of passers, other teams were circling. Despite his injuries and subpar play, the Broncos made a deal with the Ravens for Flacco. Although the deal isn’t official for a few more weeks, the Ravens will be receiving a mid-round draft pick – currently believed to be a fourth rounder.

Impact for the Broncos

For Denver, they will now see a battle between Flacco and last season’s starter, Case Keenum. Their statistics over the past few seasons are very similar and neither one will have an edge going into training camp.

While Keenum has chemistry with his weapons, the Broncos also have a new head coach in Vic Fangio. This means there will be a new offensive system that neither player knows. Moreover, Flacco has greater experience and has the better arm strength, which in the Mile High air could be even more pronounced.

Ultimately for Denver, it’s yet another quarterback decision that is highly questionable. Keenum has been the starter for just one year and before that there was the Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch experience. Prior to that was Peyton Manning, Brock Osweiler, and ever so briefly Mark Sanchez. General manager John Elway hasn’t found a long-term plan yet, and this trade doesn’t indicate any clear direction beyond a few years.

Impact for the Ravens

For Baltimore, they gain trade capitol and are free from Flacco. Regardless of his play, the team was hamstrung by his contract and injuries for the past few years. However, they now lack the insurance of having an experienced veteran with a strong knowledge of the offense.

If Jackson gets injured, they won’t have the luxury of being able to turn to Flacco. Not only that, but Flacco has been the most prominent signal caller the franchise has had. The Ravens need Jackson to have success over the next few years, otherwise some will feel they made a mistake.

The extra draft pick is important for Baltimore. They have been able to find value in the middle of the draft repeatedly and they will need to build the offense around Jackson. It’s also important for the team to recoup some value, rather than letting Flacco leave in free agency. Getting him to Denver before Nick Foles or Ryan Tannehill find landing spots was also important. If either of those two found new homes first, Flacco’s value would have declined and the Ravens would have had a tougher time moving him on.

Wrapping it Up

While neither team has, “won,” the trade yet, the Ravens are the early leaders. Losing Flacco was possible because they’re prepared for the future while the Broncos continue to leave their fans wondering what the plan is.

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