The Denver Broncos broke headlines Wednesday morning as it was announced that they had agreed to a trade that would send a mid-round draft pick, reportedly a fourth rounder, to Baltimore in exchange for former Super Bowl MVP QB Joe Flacco. Because of league rules, the trade cannot officially go through until March 14 when the new league year begins, and neither organization is allowed to comment on the trade until then, either. Before we make any analysis on the trade, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Flacco has more passing yards (38,245), passing attempts, (5,670) and passing touchdowns (212), than any other player that has never been selected to a pro bowl per Adam Schefter on Twitter (@AdamSchefter). He has a career completion % of 61.7 and a career passer rating of 84.1. His contract is 3 years/$66 million. In 2019 he will carry a cap hit of $18.5 million. In 2020, he will carry a cap hit of $20.25 million, and $24.25 million in 2021. A potential out in the contract is in 2020 when there would be no dead money if he were to be cut according to spotrac.com.
The thing that makes this trade a head-scratcher is that Denver is already paying Case Keenum a 2 year/$36 million contract in which he has a $21 million cap hit for 2019. Denver is reportedly shopping Keenum, but if they cannot find a trade partner for him and decide to cut him, it will cost them $10 million in dead money, also according to Spotrac. Keenum will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2019 season. So now the Broncos are paying two mediocre quarterbacks big money, and unless Keenum would be willing to take a paycut, it appears that it would be difficult to trade him. Currently, the Broncos are sitting at just over $18 million in cap space, and after a potential Keenum trade, that number would be down to $12 million after dead cap per Bryce Martino of The Sports Wave.
Obviously, Broncos GM John Elway believes that Flacco is an upgrade over Keenum, while Flacco’s cap hit is also $2.5 million less than that of Keenum’s for 2019. Each of these two quarterbacks are essentially on one-year “prove it” deals for 2019, as Flacco’s contract has an out for 2020 and Keenum’s is up after this season. If Flacco proves worthy to the Broncos this season, they would probably bring him back on a re-structured deal in the future. If nobody wants to trade for Keenum, Elway has potentially put Denver in a tough situation money-wise. This Broncos team is not without holes in the roster, and paying two average quarterbacks big money with no guarantee of a trade is quite the risky move.
Denver also has several key free agents that they probably want to pay this offseason: CB Bradley Roby, C Matt Paradis, RT Jared Veldheer, G Billy Turner, and WR Tim Patrick.
There is also no real long-term benefit of this move at the time. It’s been rumored that Elway and the Broncos are enamored with top 2019 quarterback prospect Drew Lock from Missouri, so my reasoning would be that Flacco is Elway’s preferred mentor for his future franchise quarterback.
So, who are some potential suitors for Case Keenum. The Redskins need a quarterback, but cannot absorb is cap hit right now as they are currently at $20.5 million in cap space. The Giants are currently at $27.4 million and could take on that cap hit, but I wouldn’t expect them to do so, as it is expected that they will draft a quarterback and they already have a good mentor in Eli Manning. The Dolphins are only at $11 million in total cap space and the Jaguars are way down at $-6 million. Other than the teams just mentioned, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for anybody to trade for him, unless Keenum takes a significant pay cut. We’ll have to see how this whole situation shakes out, but at this moment it appears that John Elway may have put the Broncos in an unnecessary cap-crisis.
*Note: The teams just mentioned and their listed cap spaces are of February 13. None of these numbers are taking into consideration probable moves that would clear up cap space.
As for the Ravens, this was a great deal. They get a draft pick and dump a huge contract and give up merely a backup quarterback. Now the