KUSA – Flacco or Foles or first-round pick.
Unless I’m missing something, the Broncos options in their attempt to upgrade their quarterback position are limited and obvious.
They can either acquire veterans Joe Flacco or Nick Foles from the trade/free agent market. Or they can use their No. 10 overall draft position to take one of four first-round quarterbacks: Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock, Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray.
The first scenario – Flacco or Foles – could keep Case Keenum with the Broncos as a backup quarterback. He has $7 million of his $18 million salary in 2019 fully guaranteed. That may be too much to eat, and too difficult to trade.
The second scenario would keep Keenum around as the starting quarterback to open the 2019 season under Vic Fangio until the hot-shot, first-round rookie is ready.
Let’s look at the two scenarios and the six quarterbacks within.
*Go for Flacco or Foles
The reason this makes sense is in theory it would allow the Broncos to become playoff competitive in 2019. Three of the Broncos’ top four new coaching hires – Vic Fangio, Ed Donatell and Mike Munchak – will have an average age of nearly 61 years old by the season opener.
They ain’t here for a long rebuild.
The reason against this move is, how much better are Flacco and Foles right now compared to Keenum at this time last year? And Keenum’s $18 million salary is large enough to where it would be difficult to add another large-salaried quarterback.
Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on from the sidelines during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at M&T Bank Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
A. Joe Flacco
He’s under contract for three more years with the Baltimore Ravens so general manager Eric DeCosta will exhaust all trading opportunities before he considers releasing the 34-year-old former Super Bowl MVP.
Flacco’s contract was huge at the time, but if he is your guy, he would come at a quarterback-friendly $18.5 million in 2019, $20.25 million in 2020 and $24.25 million in 2021. None of that money is guaranteed, although no doubt his new team would at least fully guarantee the first year.
Buyer beware: Since his miraculous Flacco Fling against the Broncos that was part of his sensational postseason in 2012, Flacco has not fared well statistically in the league passing ratings. His rankings:
-32nd in 2013
-16th in 2014 (with Gary Kubiak as his offensive coordinator)
-30th in 2015
-24th in 2016
-25th in 2017
-28th in 2018 before he was benched in favor of rookie Lamar Jackson.
Flacco won just one playoff game in that time. Still, when it appeared Kubiak was going to be the Broncos’ offensive coordinator this season, his previous success with Flacco fueled speculation of a reunion. Kubiak is gone but new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello was reared in the Mike Shanahan-Kubiak-Kyle Shanahan offense.
Flacco has proved if all the pieces are there, he can lead a team to a Super Bowl. It may have been nearly 7 years ago. But he’s done it.
B. Nick Foles
There’s a better chance Foles would wind up a free agent than Flacco. The Eagles have until roughly February 10 to exercise a $20 million option on Foles for the 2019 season. If the Eagles decline, Foles becomes a free agent. If the Eagles pick up the option, Foles could decline, although he would have to pay $2 million to get out and become a free agent.
Foles, 30, is four years younger than Flacco and has more recent success. Still, Foles has only started more than eight games in a season twice, and never more than 11. Like Flacco, Foles has proven he can win it all. Foles was the Super Bowl MVP last year in a high-scoring win against the Patriots.
*Use the No. 10 overall draft pick on a QB
The reason the Broncos should take this option is they don’t have a young quarterback in their system after Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly were cut last year. With young Patrick Mahomes II playing in the same division for the rival Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos need a long-term solution at quarterback. Foles and Flacco, while quality alternatives for 2019, are still band-aids to resolving the Broncos’ quarterback situation.
A young QB would also mesh well with Keenum, a veteran who would be more wiling to accept a first-round rookie behind him. Foles and Flacco will draw enough interest from other teams that they would be in position to mandate a promise the Broncos wouldn’t draft a quarterback in the first round.
The reason the Broncos shouldn’t go this route, though, is none of the first-round quarterbacks figure to be ready to start, much less win, in the first half of the 2019 season. Fangio and some of his key assistants are ready to win yesterday. So is general manager John Elway.
Also, the No. 10 pick puts the Broncos behind the quarterback needy Giants (No. 6 pick) and Jaguars (No. 7). Trading up from 10 to say, No. 5 would cost the Broncos the equivalent of their second-round pick this year or next year’s first-round selection.
The Broncos have too many other needs to make such a swap.
Dwayne Haskins #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks to pass during the second half in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2019 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
A. Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
A one-year starter in Urban Meyer’s spread passing/power running scheme, Haskins threw for 50 touchdowns against just 8 interceptions this season. A shotgun, run-pass option quarterback who stays in the pocket, the 6-foot-3 Haskin threw for 4,831 yards and ran only for 108.
The mocksters say he’s the No. 1 QB in the 2019 draft. I saw him play two games this year and he looked good to me. I just don’t know how NFL scouts/executives/GMs are supposed to tell. A high percentage of his throws are to wide-open receivers. He would need time transferring to an NFL offense.
Drew Lock #3 of the Missouri Tigers throws the ball against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the first half of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on December 31, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
B. Drew Lock, Missouri
The 6-foot-3 senior was promising enough to draw Elway, his top assistant Matt Russell and former front office adviser Gary Kubiak to Columbia, Mo. for a late-November game against Arkansas.
Playing through a chilly rain, Lock overcame his 9.0-inch hand size by completing 16 of 25 for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran in two more scores for a 38-0 win.
Wonder who liked him more, Kubiak, who is now with the Vikings, or Elway/Russell? Lock is competing in the Senior Bowl this week, again with Elway and Russell watching.
Linebacker Kendall Joseph #34 of the Clemson Tigers hangs on to quarterback Daniel Jones #17 of the Duke Blue Devils during their football game at Clemson Memorial Stadium on November 17, 2018 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
C. Daniel Jones, Duke
He’s 6-foot-5, just like Peyton. His college coach was David Cutcliffe, just like Peyton. He put up OK, not great college stats, unlike Peyton.
Kyler Murray #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
D. Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
I’m not saying the Heisman Trophy winner can’t play NFL quarterback because he’s 5-foot-9. I’m saying he wouldn’t be a good fit for the Broncos because he must play from the pistol or shotgun and the Rich Scangarello offense needs its quarterbacks under center for the wide-zone run to work best.
Come to think of it, there’s a chance neither option – one, Flacco or Foles, or two, a first-round pick – will work. Maybe the best option is to strengthen the team around Keenum and get a first-round quarterback in 2020.