Is Joe Flacco, at 34 years old, just now entering his prime?
John Elway said that with all sincerity on Thursday to James Palmer of the NFL Network. But, is he really serious?
Flacco, a stalwart of a player, is entering his 12th season this year and at 34 years old is likely at the back end of his prime, if even still in his prime at all. Statistically, his best season came in 2014; 3,986 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions, with a 91.0 passer rating. That was a full five years ago, and Flacco was even injured last year, furthering the belief that his best years are behind him.
But, on the other end of the spectrum, “The Comeback” is calling Flacco to the Broncos for a fourth-round pick one of the top-6 worst deals of the offseason.
“John Elway has to stop chasing his tail,” Brad Gagnon writes. “The 34-year-old Flacco has never been elected to a Pro Bowl and is the second lowest-rated qualified passer in the NFL dating back to 2013. He doesn’t deserve a starting job, let alone an $18.5 million salary.”
OK, to say he isn’t in his prime is one thing, and it’s likely correct. But to say Flacco doesn’t deserve to be a starter in the NFL is ludicrous.
So, what did the Broncos really get in their new, 34-year old quarterback?
Well, they got an extremely experienced signal-caller — which is incredibly important — especially when talking about the playoffs. All-time, Flacco has gone 10-5 in the postseason and he’s not only help lead a team to a Super Bowl, but he won the big game’s MVP as well. That, of course, happened back in January of 2013, so he’s a long time removed from it all. Still, he has it under his belt, something only a handful of quarterbacks can say.
In fact, Flacco was really on top of his game in 2018 before being injured. As the Broncos tweeted on Thursday, the under-center quarterback was on track for a career-high through the first nine weeks of the year. He was on a projected course to finish with 4,382 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
If Flacco can come close to those numbers this year, the Broncos will be in much better shape than they were in 2018 with Case Keenum.
In reality, however, all Flacco has to do is be middle-of-the-road at best. Can he be a game-manager and allow the defense to do what it excels at?
Denver’s built on the defensive side of the ball first, which is where the addition of Kareem Jackson comes in. Yes, the Broncos still have holes to fill on that side of the ball, but they also have a ton of talent on defense in Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Shelby Harris, Chris Harris and Jackson, among others.
If John Elway wants to really look smart this year in the NFL draft, he’ll snag Devin White with the No. 10 overall pick, giving the Broncos another legitimate star on that side of the ball.
But back to Flacco; is he entering his prime at 34? No. And was his deal, for a measly fourth-round pick one of the worst deals of the offseason? Considering the other incredibly overpriced deals “The Comeback” listed, no.
Flacco will be a pedestrian quarterback for the Broncos in 2019, and that may be good enough to push Denver back to the playoffs for the first time in three years. He just has to protect the ball and find a way to create a few explosive plays here and there to put the Broncos in positions to win games.
In a world of extremes, Flacco is likely in the middle of these two bi-polar opinions.