Denver Broncos turn to Joe Flacco for QB help, trading fourth-round pick to Baltimore

Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens have the inside track to the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff field.
Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens have the inside track to the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff field. The Associated Press

Denver’s Case Keenum era appears to be closed.

General manager John Elway has traded in principle for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, ending Keenum’s one-year tenure as Denver’s starter, according to a Wednesday report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The trade can’t officially go through until the league’s new year opens on March 13, and the two teams can’t comment on the deal until that date.

In exchange for Flacco, the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII, the Broncos are giving up a 2019 fourth-round pick, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.

In signing Flacco, the Broncos hope to find a catalyst to turn the team around from last year’s 6-10 season. But after winning the Super Bowl MVP in 2012, Flacco’s numbers have dropped off significantly. He’s gone 24-27 in his last four seasons as a starter, and his 2018 season was cut short as he worked through a hip injury and was supplanted by rookie Lamar Jackson as the Ravens’ starter in Week 11.

In nine games last year, Flacco threw for 2,464 yards, completing 232 of 379 attempts for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.

While the division-rival Chiefs saw their first-year starter — Patrick Mahomes — rack up 50 regular-season touchdowns against 12 interceptions, Keenum’s 15 interceptions with the Broncos last season were tied for second-most in the NFL, and he averaged a paltry 6.6 yards per attempt to Mahomes’ 8.8.

The Broncos in recent years have tried Keenum, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch at quarterback. None have made a meaningful impact.

Flacco has a connection to the revamped Denver coaching staff. New Broncos head coach Vic Fangio was with Flacco during his first two years in Baltimore. And Gary Kubiak, former Broncos executive and head coach, coached Flacco in Baltimore and was one of his bigger fans.

Flacco, 34, doesn’t have any more guaranteed money on his contract, but the contract does come with a cap hit of $18.5 million for 2019.

Keenum is guaranteed $7 million in 2019, the second year of a two-year, $36 million contract. If he is cut, the Broncos will carry $10 million in dead money.

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Brooke Pryor covers the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star, where she works to give readers a deeper understanding of the franchise and the NFL through daily stories, game coverage, and player profiles. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C.