Broncos' sad reported trade for Joe Flacco another illustration of Patriots' longevity

Alex Reimer
February 14, 2019 - 12:20 pm
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The Broncos’ reported acquisition of Joe Flacco represents more than a middling team inexplicably taking on a grossly overpaid quarterback on the downside of his mediocre career. It’s another illustration of the Patriots’ incredible longevity. Not too long ago, Flacco and the Broncos were two of Brady and Belichick’s top obstacles in the AFC. 

And now, they seem destined to spend the forseeable future playing meaningless games in December.

John Elway’s failure to replace Peyton Manning should put him in grave danger of losing his job, except Denver’s ownership situation has been in flux ever since owner Pat Bowlen was diagnosed wth Alzheimer's (the club is currently held in a trust). Elway drafted Brock Osweiler in 2012 –– 18 slots before the Seahawks selected Russell Wilson –– and then failed to re-sign him, despite his best efforts. The Broncos then drafted Paxton Lynch in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he is on track to become one of the bigger QB busts in recent memory. Lynch appeared in five games for the Broncos before getting demoted to third on the depth chart last season.

In Lynch’s place, the Broncos mostly started seventh-round wonder Trevor Siemian. Last year, they signed stand-in veteran Case Keenum, who to the surprise of nobody, did not replicate his career-best 2017 season with the Vikings. Keenum posted an 81.2 QBR in 2018.

With the 10th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Broncos are in prime position to draft and develop their next long-term starter. They could still do that, but they’ll also be paying Flacco $18.5 million –– with an identical $18.5 million cap hit –– to pretty much perform like Keenum. By the way, the Broncos will outlay at least $10 million on the cap for Keenum, too. They’re tying up $28.5 million in salary cap space to two bad veteran quarterbacks. That doesn’t leave them a lot of room to add the young talent they desperately need at other skill positions. 

Flacco, 34, has three years left on his bloated deal. Since signing his original $120 million extension in 2013, he’s only posted a QB rating above 84.2 on one occasion. He’s just not good. The Ravens discarded Flacco for rookie Lamar Jackson last season and went on a postseason run. 

The Broncos have no plan at the QB position. Elway knew Manning was going to be a short-term fix, but struck out on his original heir apparent, and hasn’t found anybody since. The Broncos are a long ways off from their days beating up on Brady in the 2016 AFC championship. 

Flacco, meanwhile, is living proof of just how far one sensational playoff run can carry players. His Super Bowl performance in 2013 –– 11 touchdowns and no picks –– is the obvious outlier in his forgettable career. But yet, he still made more annually last season than Brady.

It's hard to come up with another trade that shows the Patriots' superiority over the AFC from as many sides. 

Related: Will they stay or will they go: A look at Patriots’ own free agents and who will return in 2019

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