Staring at what's largely perceived to be an anything-but-elite QB draft crop, with a screaming need at the position, John Elway, naturally, has decided to trade for Joe Flacco.
The first bombshell trade of the 2019 offseason, which was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, can't be consummated until the new league year begins March 13. But the compensation headed from Denver to Baltimore will be a mid-round pick, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. Additionally, the Ravens will receive $10.5 million in cap relief, while the Broncos will absorb Flacco's $18.5 million cap charge next season but could wipe the contract off the books thereafter.
Where to begin?
How about with the stark residuals, Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Denver's Case Keenum. One is long for their current post (Jackson), whereas the other (Keenum) just earned his likely pink slip after putting in the bank $25 million for his 20-TD, 17-TO one-and-done season as the Broncos starter, finishing 6-10.
Woof. That's another big QB whiff for Elway, and it's tough not to think he's about to compound his perpetual problem. Flacco, 34, is coming off the worst season of his career, which was cut short initially by a hip injury and curbed completely by the emergence of Jackson. Flacco, remember, also has dealt over the past two seasons with a disc issue in his back.
We all know by now what Flacco is at his best: mostly ordinary from September-December but occasionally extraordinary in January. He downed new Broncos coach Vic Fangio's 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII and, lest we forget, slayed Peyton Manning's Broncos and Tom Brady's Patriots in that same 2012 postseason, undoubtedly the best month of his NFL career.
But save for a mini revival in 2014, Flacco's numbers have been in decline ever since that Super Bowl triumph and subsequent new contract reflecting his ELITE status. Of course, also in decline over the past three seasons was Denver's QB situation. Elway clearly views Flacco as an upgrade from Keenum who can maximize an aging but talented defense's remaining title window with Fangio's arrival likely to spur a nice boost on that side of the ball.
But the Broncos face major questions along the offensive line with C Matt Paradis and RT Jared Veldheer free agents, LG Ronald Leary a potential cap casualty and LT Garett Bolles still an undisciplined, unfinished product entering Year 3. Putting the immobile Flacco in this situation feels, well, a lot like the ones he failed in in recent seasons in Baltimore.
Then there's the draft part of all this. The Broncos wield the No. 10 overall pick and were thought to be potential QB seekers of the highest order. That Elway clearly doesn't envision any potential plug-and-play candidates in the lot at No. 10 isn't stunning, but given his track record of acquiring QBs, it can be interpreted a few different ways.
Heck, some might even view Elway, who has missed on Keenum, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch and badly mishandled the position since landing Manning, putting his stamp of disapproval on this class as a positive. But could the Broncos still be in play to draft a rookie early? They're now committed to carrying at least $28.5 million on the cap at the position, but that shouldn't dissuade them from adding another roughly $3.5 million (the cap charge for last year's 10th overall pick, Josh Rosen, was $3.2 million) for the right guy.
Finding the right guy is the real challenge.