With not a lot left for our team to play for, Broncos fans are starting to eye the looming off-season en masse. And while the search for a new head coach will, hopefully, headline the early weeks of said offseason, the quarterback question will undoubtedly rear its ugly head yet again after a sub-par season from Case Keenum. So let’s examine some low-hanging fruit and see it for the rotten apple it is.
A name that you’ll hear a lot this offseason is that of Joe Flacco, who will likely be in need of a new home since the future has clearly arrived in Baltimore in the form of Lamar Jackson. Broncos Country, don’t fall for the fool’s gold. Bringing in Flacco would solve no problems for this team.
Why not, you ask? Let’s take a look.
QB rating is a good place to start. It’s definitely no be-all, end-all argument for or against any QB, but it’s an okay measure of overall QB performance that’s good enough for a high-level view. So the good news first: Joe Flacco posted his highest QB rating since 2014 this season.
The bad news? It was a pretty sad mark of just 84.2, good for just 29th among QBs who’ve thrown 100+ passes this season. Though he did beat 30th ranked Case Keenum’s 82.1 (though that can still change).
In a season when “Top 10 QB” might as well be synonymous with a 100+ QB rating, that’s unacceptable. And that’s pretty much been the story with Flacco for quite a while now, honestly. Even his 2014 QB rating of 91.0, the 2nd highest of his career, ranked a tepid 17th in the NFL that year. If he’d put that number up in 2018, it would fall to 24th.
And did I mention that Flacco’s career QB rating is 84.1?
Let’s examine some other basic performance & production numbers for Flacco over the last 5 years:
- His completion rate rose from 62.1% in 2014 to 64.4% in 2015, and has held steady in the 64.1%-64.9% range ever since.
- He threw 27 TDs vs 12 Ints in 2014, but has thrown 64 TDs vs 46 Ints since then.
- He hasn’t led a 4th quarter comeback or a game-winning drive since Week 3 of 2016 vs the Jacksonville Jaguars. So not in his last 38 games, which includes 14 one-score losses.
How about a little more of an advanced metric from the folks over at Football Outsiders? Their DVOA stat is more commonly cited, but DYAR is more QB-specific. DYAR, or Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement, “gives the value of the quarterback ‘s performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage.” So higher is better & negative means your QB is actively hurting your team. Take a look at Flacco’s DYAR over the last 5 years, compared to several other Broncos QBs past and present and contrasted against an actual elite QB in Drew Brees for good measure.
It’s not a very pretty picture regarding Broncos QBs, is it? But we’ll spend plenty of time this offseason discussing our team’s, and our GM’s, struggles in that regard. Today’s discussion is in hopes that we won’t open another new chapter in our book of QB purgatory. Bringing in Joe Flacco, who’s ranked 27th, 30th, & 32nd in DYAR from 2015 through 2017 among QBs with 200+ pass attempts, would be that next bad chapter.
That Price Tag
If they can somehow swing it, I’m sure the Baltimore Ravens would love to move on from Joe Flacco via a trade. Any team would prefer to get something back instead of nothing, after all, and Flacco will cost Baltimore at least $16M in dead money regardless. The problem with that is that Flacco’s 3 year, $22M/year extension, signed in 2016, is a severely back-loaded deal. In addition to the remaining $16M of signing bonus the Ravens will eat, Flacco’s $6M 2017 salary doubled to $12M this year, and will continue ballooning in the final 3 years of the deal: to $18.5M in 2019, $20.25M in 2020, & $24.25M in 2021.
That $18.5M salary in 2019 isn’t so bad for a veteran starting QB these days, but the Broncos will already be eating at least a $3M cap hit from Case Keenum- and that’s only if they manage to trade him away in turn. So that’s $21.5M of the cap dedicated to bad QBs, at minimum, if we want to trade Keenum out for Flacco. And if we traded for Flacco & had to cut Keenum, that hit balloons to $28.5M for the two combined. No, thank you!
Alternatively, the Ravens could end up cutting Flacco. Though personally I think they’d wait and roll with him as their backup for 2019 before moving him the next offseason rather than cut him this offseason. But if they did, it’d be up to the market... and, frankly, given the level of stupidity involved in NFL QB contracts in recent years and Flacco’s 163 games of starting experience? His price would only go up, as ridiculous as that is.
On the scale of free agent QB signings, from incredible (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, etc) to incredibly stupid (Brock Osweiler, <insert pre-Mayfield Browns QB of your choice>), you tell me where Flacco would rate.
But before you do, consider all of the above and then consider this: He just lost his job to a rookie QB who’s completing just 58.9% of his passes & who has thrown just 5 TDs vs 3 Interceptions in 5 games as the starter. And who has rushed the football 86 times in those 5 games for 427 yards vs 731 yards gained by passing. That’s 146 passing yards per game.
This in a league where increasingly QB-friendly, passing-friendly rules have 34 different QBs with 100+ pass attempts completing 60%+ of their passes, and 37 different QBs in the same group are throwing for over 150 yards per game (and 19 are throwing for 250+ yards per game). And even in that environment Lamar Jackson, whose best weapons at the moment are his legs, is a better start at QB than Joe Flacco.
If there’s a solution to the Broncos’ quarterback woes this offseason, it’s not Joe Flacco. He’ll cost too much, he’s barely an upgrade on Keenum (if at all), and frankly he’s just not a good starting NFL quarterback and hasn’t been for a long time. By all means, keep looking for solutions & debating their relative merits. Just, please, for my sanity and your own: say “No!” to Flacco.
Do you believe that Joe Flacco, on his own merits, is a good option for the Broncos’ starting QB job in 2019?
This poll is closed
Yes. Go get him!
Not Sure Yet.
No. Stay away!