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Elway or the highway: Denver treading water with Joe Flacco

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Roar Guru
19th February, 2019

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway is back to his old tricks.

After acquiring the services of the great Peyton Manning in March of 2012, Elway and the Broncos just last week shipped a fourth-round pick to Baltimore for former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.

Once again, Elway has gone back to the well for a veteran quick-fix at the position that has haunted his reign.

It’s a tactic that has, outside of the Manning hiring, blown up in Elway’s face more often than not, and held an otherwise competitive Denver roster hostage.

Be it acquiring a veteran through free agency, trade or via the draft, the quarterbacks Elway has brought to the Mile High City leave a lot to be desired.

In the beginning it was Brock Osweiler, who looked to replace Manning before betting on himself and losing after signing a $72 million contract with the Houston Texans.

In this instance Denver won and Houston lost, although the Texans now have their ‘guy’ at quarterback in Deshaun Watson, something the Broncos still cannot claim.

Next came Trevor Siemian.

In his 26 starts for the Broncos, Siemian threw 30 touchdowns against 24 interceptions with a completion percentage of 59.3 – respectable numbers for a former seventh round pick out of little Northwestern. Siemian was subsequently traded to the Minnesota Vikings prior to the 2018 season.


Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch was cut after just five games, and was recently touted by Total Pro Sports as the Broncos’ worst draft pick of the last decade.

And in 2018, fans had to sit through a horrendously up-and-down season with the unflattering Case Keenum under centre.

After a dream season in 2017 with the Vikings that had more to do with brilliant coaching, scheming and a strong support cast rather than actual talent, Keenum cashed in, signing a $36 million contract with Denver on March 14.

Which brings us to Flacco.

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An ageing – Flacco will turn 35 next January – immobile quarterback whose name now only appears alongside the term ‘elite’ ironically will look to steer Elway’s Broncos back to the playoffs for the first time since the franchise won its fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy, in 2015.

Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning

AP Photo/Matt York

Flacco, going from Baltimore to Denver, now finds himself playing behind a much lesser offensive line, a superior receiving group – even with the mid-season trade of Demaryius Thomas – and a strong running game, similar in effectiveness but much different by design.

Defensively, Baltimore finished with the number 1 ranked defence last season (292.9 yards per game), compared to Denver’s 22nd (365.1).

Contractually, Flacco’s remaining figures look monstrous – $63 million over three years – though it’s a contract that will see him earn $18.5 million in 2019, with zero guaranteed money afterwards. Put simply, it won’t tie Elway’s hands at the position, putting the organisation in a prime situation to draft their signal caller of the future and have them sit behind Flacco for at least one season – think Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City.

That rookie could be drafted as soon as this April, in a draft not exactly lauded for the quarterback talents available. Even so, many scouts around the league will tell you the jungle drums are beating when it comes to the Broncos’ interest in Missouri’s Drew Lock.

In any case, Elway can only dream of having a situation like the rival Chiefs have recently experienced with the Mahomes phenomenon.


In reality, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the quarterback to lead the Broncos to their fifth Lombardi trophy has not yet been lured by Mr Elway.