49ers’ first-round draft pick still in play for Broncos despite Flacco trade

Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens goes under center against the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens goes under center against the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco will be a member of the Denver Broncos in 2019, as the two teams struck a deal to trade the veteran backup. However, Denver’s hunt for a franchise QB continues, which leaves the door open for the Broncos to trade for the San Francisco 49ers’ first-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Quarterback Joe Flacco‘s roller-coaster career as a member of the Baltimore Ravens came to an end on Wednesday as ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Denver Broncos will acquire the 11-year veteran once the NFL’s 2019 league year begins next month:

The trade rids the Ravens of an expensive backup quarterback who failed to live up to the blockbuster contract he signed after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. Flacco signed a contract extension with Baltimore’s cap-strapped front office in 2016, which added money to the deal and included a $40 million signing bonus for the veteran.

After a number of lackluster seasons, Flacco eventually lost his starting job to rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who led the Ravens to a wild-card playoff berth last year. Given Flacco’s starter-caliber salary, the Ravens were quick to part ways with their polarizing quarterback for a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer:

The trade was a no-brainer for the Broncos, who have struggled mightily at the quarterback position since the retirement of Peyton Manning. Flacco’s addition means the end of the abbreviated Case Keenum era in Denver, just a year after the journeyman cashed in on a respectable 2017 season by signing a two-year, $36 million contract with the Broncos.

After a six-win 2018 season that included 15 interceptions, Keenum lost his starting job at the end of the season. The Broncos are scheduled to pay Flacco $18.5 million in 2019, so Keenum’s $18 million salary will force the team to part ways with their previous one-year starter.

Wednesday’s trade demonstrates that Broncos general manager John Elway believes Flacco still has something left in the tank. However, it’s unlikely that Denver’s front office views Flacco as the team’s long-term answer at quarterback, due to the 34-year-old’s age and lack of success in recent seasons.

Flacco’s contract is essentially a year-to-year deal, which makes him a perfect bridge quarterback to the Broncos’ QB of the future, provided Denver is able to land a franchise quarterback in one of the next two drafts.

If Elway decides to select a quarterback early in the 2019 NFL Draft, the 49ers are a viable trade partner, particularly if Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa is unavailable for San Francisco at pick No. 2.

Last month, Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy noted that Elway’s relationship with 49ers general manager John Lynch, combined with the Broncos’ plethora of draft picks, would make Denver a front-runner if San Francisco chooses to trade back in the 2019 NFL Draft.

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Given the teams’ coaching and front-office connections and their willingness to make deals during recent drafts, don’t discount the possibility of a first-round trade between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos in the 2019 NFL Draft — even after the addition of quarterback Joe Flacco.