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MHR staff grapples with whether Flacco is an upgrade to Keenum

On paper, neither QB is that impressive, but when it comes to scheme fit, Flacco may have the edge.

Denver Broncos v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The looming trade deal with the Baltimore Ravens for Joe Flacco has Broncos Country reeling this morning, trying to decide if it was good move, a bad move, a strategic move or a wasted move.

And the Mile High Report chat room was no different.

Tim Lynch posed a simple question - what does this mean for the Broncos - which touched off the expected firestorm of ranging views. We are fans too, after all.

But the discussion provides a lot of interesting talking points for the group.

Taylor Kothe responded immediately that this means John Elway got nervous.

“It means that despite coach Fangio’s words, the team immediately turned around and made a band-aid move,” he said. “It means spending extra cap unnecessarily for little to no gain, and the loss of a mid-round pick to boot.”

Lynch chimed in that perhaps the coaches felt the “band-aid move” this season was picking a QB at No. 10 in the draft, and bringing in Flacco was a way to buy some time and “strategically pick up a much better franchise QB later.”

Kothe still considers the Flacco pickup as a “totally unnecessary stopgap” because the Broncos already had that in Case Keenum.

Kevin Gillikin sees this as obviously a Vic Fangio signing.

“He wanted a guy he was familiar with, and was either Flacco or Colin Kaepernick,” Gillikin said. “At least Flacco is a slight upgrade in talent over Keenum. I bet Keenum gets traded to the Giants to be paired again with Shurmur.”

Joe Rowles doesn’t see Flacco as an upgrade and therefore sees the signing as taking away financial resources to really build the team the Broncos need.

“It means Elway is back to signing guys who fit the NFL mold,” he said. “This bodes well if you like Drew Lock. It means if they take him, Flacco may have a long enough leash that the rookie can sit for a full year to learn. Also means the Broncos are a fringe playoff team at best next year. Just like they were before the trade.”

But Jeffrey Essary considers the deal for Flacco to give Denver something better than they’d have with Keenum and therefore the reason the Broncos want to trade for him.

“Whether Denver drafted a QB or not, they were going to start Keenum this year and let the young QB sit,” he said. “So Denver clearly sees Flacco as more than a stopgap QB, and it still doesn’t preclude them from drafting a QB this year. Now they have coverage at QB for more than one year as Flacco’s contract gives them flexibility to draft a young QB this year or wait until next year if they want.”

Looking at the cap numbers, Rowles pointed to stats from Over The Cap:

Case Keenum has a $7 million salary guaranteed and another $11 million in non-guaranteed salary. Not sure anyone will sign off on that. Unless Denver trades him, they will wind up with $28.5 million in cap charges between Flacco and Keenum if Keenum is cut.”

Tying up nearly $30 million for two average quarterbacks will hamstring the franchise, says Rowles.

“The quarterback position is going to prevent Denver from making other moves this spring - all for a quarterback who hasn’t been better than 17th in DYAR (per Football Outsiders) since 2014,” Rowles noted. “And three of those years, he was 27th or worse.”

Joe Mahoney says Elway is “obviously trying to squeeze another playoff run” out of the talent corps the Broncos currently have - led by elite defenders Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr.

“There is no other reason to trade for a QB who is only a marginal upgrade over Keenum,” Mahoney said, and Kothe pointed out that “said QB” hasn’t played a playoff game since 2014.

But Essary still sees the move as giving flexibility the team wouldn’t have with Keenum.

“If they kept Keenum, they were screwed next year without him under contract,” he said. “And if they didn’t draft a QB, they’d be in the Paxton Lynch boat, forced to not only pick but start their 2020 draft QB.”

Ian St. Clair agreed, arguing that by trading for Flacco, the Broncos don’t feel forced to draft a QB at No. 10 this year and can more likely pick a QB in 2020-21 they like better.

Mahoney and Kothe are still not buying the “Flacco is better than Keenum” argument.

“Flacco completed only 61 percent of his passes in 2018, and the League average was 65 percent,” he pointed out. “Hiding non-qualifiers, in 2018 Flacco ranked 29th in completion percentage, 28th in TD percentage, sixth in INT percentage, 24th in ANYA, fifth in sack percentage, 28th in passer rating.”

Essary likes that Flacco at least still has “flashes” of his Super Bowl self.

“That’s what you’re betting on. And if you don’t get it, you’ve upgraded to at least league average at QB, which has been the nirvana we’ve talked about since Manning.”

Christopher Hart and Scotty Payne point to the fact that all the way around, Flacco is a better scheme fit for the Broncos than Keenum.

“I have no idea if this move ends up being an upgrade, but I don’t care about past stats, potential or ceiling talk,” Hart said. “Flacco’s ability to push the ball vertically fits in with what the team is looking to do.”

Payne looks at Flacco as just a different stopgap at the QB position but agrees with Hart that he fits the Broncos’ game much better and likes the idea of “change.”

“Change is better than no change, especially if it’s a better scheme fit,” he said, adding, “I’ll keep saying it, SCHEME FIT!”


Is Joe Flacco an upgrade over Case Keenum?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Yes - change is better than no change (right on, Scotty!)
    (736 votes)
  • 34%
    Probably but not enough to make a difference.
    (704 votes)
  • 29%
    No. There was no reason to go from one stopgap to another.
    (601 votes)
2041 votes total Vote Now