The Broncos and Ravens are working to finalize a trade that would send veteran center Gino Gradkowski to Denver, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). It doesn’t sound as if a deal is official yet, but Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports (via Twitter) that it will happen.
Gradkowski, 26, started all 16 regular season contests at center for the Ravens in 2013, but was supplanted on the depth chart by 2014 trade acquisition Jeremy Zuttah, and is now a reserve for the team. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) wasn’t particularly fond of Gradkowski’s 2013 play, though his -15.6 overall grade was almost entirely a result of a poor pass-blocking performance — he was adequate as a run blocker.
The Broncos, who lost guard Orlando Franklin in free agency, had been in the market for interior line help even after signing veteran guard Shelley Smith. The team could end up playing Manuel Ramirez at center and identifying a replacement at left guard for Franklin, or Ramirez could be shifted to guard with Gradkowski taking over at center. Heading to Denver will reunite Gradkowski with former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who is now the Broncos’ head coach.
The compensation heading to Baltimore in the deal has yet to be reported, but I wouldn’t expect it to be more than a late-round draft pick. Gradkowski, a beneficiary of 2015’s proven performance escalator raises, had been set to earn a base salary of $1.542MM, so clearing that money from their books and replacing him with a cheaper backup was probably part of the Ravens’ incentive to make the move.