Can Joe Flacco Turn the Broncos Into Legitimate Contenders?

The Broncos had three options for the quarterback position this off-season: draft a young stud, stick with Case Keenum, or trade for a veteran. Now we know the team might be opting for the latter.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Broncos and Ravens have agreed in principle on a trade that will send Joe Flacco to Denver for what is likely to be a mid-round draft pick. The trade won't be finalized until March 13 at the earliest, when the new NFL year officially starts. Additionally, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Broncos are now entertaining trade offers for Keenum.

By trading for Flacco and moving on from Keenum, the Broncos are making it clear they want to win. But what's unclear is whether this trade significantly upgrades the quarterback position so the team can actually compete with the AFC's best.

This past season, it became painfully obvious that the team could have won more games if it had better play at the most important position. Although the jury's still out on how elite Flacco truly is, his play surely inspires more confidence than Keenum's.

Still, moving into win-now mode with Flacco is a risk, especially because the Broncos play in the same division as the Chiefs and the Chargers.

The Broncos do have talent on defense, with the likes of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb rushing the passer. Phillip Lindsay shocked everyone but himself in becoming the first undrafted offensive rookie to make it to the Pro Bowl, and he'll still carry the rock next season.

But the receiving corps is a big question mark, given the trade of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders's season-ending Achilles tear. And Vic Fangio will be serving as a head coach for the first time in his career, meaning there's potential for some growing pains.

But more important, Flacco isn't actually that good. He won the 2013 Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP with some unbelievable play in the playoffs, including an epic comeback win over the Broncos in what's known as the Mile High Miracle game. But aside from that one magical season, Flacco hasn't been much more than an average quarterback who lost his job to a rookie this past season. He's never even been to a Pro Bowl and won't be outgunning Patrick Mahomes or Phillip Rivers anytime soon.

But it seems like general manager John Elway and Fangio must feel that this is a risk worth taking. A years-long rebuild would drive Broncos fans crazy, and Flacco is at least an upgrade from Keenum.

Thankfully for Elway and Fangio, they're not alone in thinking Flacco is legit: President Trump once called Flacco a "very elite" quarterback. Here's hoping he's right.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.