Eisenberg: Five Thoughts on Joe Flacco


It has been widely reported that the Ravens have reached an agreement to trade Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos, receiving a fourth-round draft pick in return. The deal cannot become official until mid-March, when the NFL's economic calendar year turns over, so the Ravens aren't commenting on or confirming the reports.

If all that reporting is accurate, here are several of my thoughts on the deal:

+ I'm surprised at how many people are surprised that the Ravens reportedly found a trade partner. Flacco was playing his best football in several years before suffering the hip injury that eventually led to Lamar Jackson taking his starting job last November. Yes, he's 34 with a fairly lengthy recent injury history, but he brings many positives to the table, starting with his ability to win games, especially if surrounded by quality receiving targets and a solid offensive line. In other words, he can still win for you in the right scenario, and you can't say that about so many other quarterbacks who get a chance in the NFL. Teams are desperate to suit up a quarterback they can depend on, and there aren't that many.

+ I'm guessing Flacco is pleased that Denver is his potential landing spot -- if it plays out that way. Media members debated other possible landing spots, such as Washington, Jacksonville and Miami, but among that group of teams only the Broncos checked such important boxes as a recent winning history, which reflects a capable front office (the Broncos won Super Bowl 50); enduringly supportive fans (their games are still selling out, even after back-to-back losing seasons, and at least one fan already has an orange No. 5 jersey); and a quality defense to help out the offense (Denver ranked No. 13 in fewest points allowed in 2018 and should improve on that side of the ball with Vic Fangio taking over as head coach).

+ It's pretty amazing that this reported deal would NOT result in a reunion of Flacco and Gary Kubiak, whose single season as the Ravens' offensive coordinator in 2014 produced Flacco's best season by far since Super Bowl 47. Kubiak, of course, went on to become the Broncos' head coach and led them to that Super Bowl 50 victory, then retired for health reasons. He was reportedly going to return to the Denver sideline as OC under Fangio in 2019 until a disagreement over the makeup of the staff led to a divorce. Kubiak moved on to the Minnesota Vikings as assistant head coach/offensive adviser. I'm sure Flacco would have loved to play for Kubiak again, and I'm sure Kubiak would have loved coaching Flacco again. But it isn't happening.

+ Aside from the would-be destination, the Ravens also did Flacco a favor by reportedly trading him so early in the offseason, giving him plenty of time to get his bearings, meet new teammates, participate in spring practices and make plans for his family to relocate if it indeed becomes official on March 13. The Ravens' alternative was to hang onto him for months and cut him after June 1, a path that would have produced a significantly smaller (by 50 percent) "dead money" charge for the Ravens to absorb in 2019. This way, though, Baltimore would get an extra draft pick. And Flacco benefits.

+ The landmark change at quarterback from Flacco to Jackson couldn't have unfolded much better from the Ravens' perspective. Believe me, such changes can tear apart a franchise. But Flacco didn't lose the job by playing so poorly that the coaches had no choice but to replace him, a potentially ugly scene; what happened was he got hurt and Jackson simply won the job when given a chance, an easier scenario to digest. Flacco never complained, putting the team's fortunes first, as opposed to making a fuss. There was no bad blood between the two quarterbacks. Flacco even seemed to understand why Jackson was playing. But n no doubt, he'll be highly motivated to get back on the field and try to prove he can still win.

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