Joe Flacco’s presence shouldn’t prevent the Broncos from drafting a quarterback
The Denver Broncos made the first big trade of the NFL offseason when they agreed in principle to acquire Joe Flacco from the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens will be moving forward with Lamar Jackson as their starting quarterback, while the Broncos will be looking to revamp a quarterback room that featured Case Keenum and Kevin Hogan in 2018.
Trading for Flacco is just the first step in adding quarterback talent that can eventually compete in the AFC West with Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers. Seriously.
Sure, Flacco likely isn’t the long-term answer for the Broncos — if they thought he was they probably would have invested more than a fourth-round pick for his services.
The Broncos still need quarterback of the future, but now they don’t have to force a quarterback pick at the top of the draft. Our latest mock draft had the Broncos trading up to get a quarterback. That no longer seems necessary, even if they could still draft a quarterback.
Trading for Joe Flacco doesn’t mean Denver won’t draft a quarterback
The Broncos have the 10th pick in the upcoming draft — certainly a high enough pick to select a possible franchise quarterback of the future. If John Elway does opt to draft a quarterback, Flacco should be able to hold the fort down while the rookie gets acclimated to a new level play.
Denver needed to hit the reset on its quarterback situation anyway. The Broncos finished 27th in adjusted yards per attempt, 27th in passer rating, and threw just 19 passing touchdowns with Keenum as their starting quarterback in 2018. It wasn’t just last season, either. Denver also has had the worst passer rating in the NFL over the last four years — it was time to make a serious change.
Flacco is a start. The draft could be the next step. Elway is rumored to like Missouri quarterback Drew Lock this year. Lock is a big, strong-armed quarterback, but he could use some time to sit behind a veteran quarterback while he learns the NFL game. Flacco already endured a similar situation last season in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson — until Flacco’s hip injury put Jackson in the starting role for good.
Flacco’s contract will guarantee him to be on the team for at least one season, but Denver won’t owe him any guaranteed money past this season — which, in theory, would be when the quarterback they drafted should be ready to take the reins.
The biggest cause for concern with this is that Elway has been awful at drafting quarterbacks. His best pick was probably Trevor Siemian, who was the 250th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. His other quarterback picks have been Brock Osweiler (second round), Zac Dysert (seventh round), Paxton Lynch (first round), and Chad Kelly (seventh round). Elway also signed Osweiler again after he flamed out with the Texans in 2016. None of these guys are even on the team anymore. Not great!
What if the Broncos don’t take a quarterback at No. 10?
Cornerback is still a big need for the Broncos. The only notable cornerback that the team has locked in for the 2019 season is Chris Harris Jr., who will turn 30 years old this summer. That first-round pick would be a great spot to land a premium talent at premium position.
It’s unlikely, but they could keep Keenum for another season to back up Flacco. Flacco and Keenum would combine to take up $39.5 million of Denver’s cap space, unless they can get Keenum to agree to a new deal that would significantly reduce that number.
Another option would be to spend the 10th pick on a non-quarterback and then take a developmental quarterback in the middle of the draft. Even though the Broncos spent a fourth-round pick to get Flacco, they still have a fourth-rounder left over from when they traded Demaryius Thomas to the Houston Texans.
It’s also possible that the Broncos don’t like any of the quarterbacks in this year’s class. They very well could be looking forward to the 2020 class featuring Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.
Flacco will almost certainly be starting for the Broncos in 2019, but that doesn’t rule out Elway drafting another quarterback . Competition at the quarterback position is never a bad thing, and the Broncos have at least assured themselves that a rookie won’t be thrown into the fire immediately.
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