Joe Flacco

Broncos Place Joe Flacco On IR

The Broncos are placing Joe Flacco on injured reserve, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). This will mark the end of the quarterback’s season and, possibly, his time in Denver. 

Flacco is owed $20.5MM in 2020, but the Broncos can save $10MM by cutting him loose beforehand. In eight games for the Broncos this year, Flacco completed 65.3% of his passes, but threw just six touchdowns against five interceptions. The completion percentage marked a career high for Flacco, but the TD/INT ratio is his worst ever.

Injuries have dogged the former Super Bowl champ for much of his career – he missed time in 2015 and 2018 and also dealt with back pain in 2017. With his 35th birthday on the horizon in January, there’s no telling what’s next for Flacco.

The silver lining is that Flacco’s neck injury is not believed to be a career-threatening injury. Flacco could still continue playing in 2020, it seems, provided that he is willing to play for much less than his current contract.

With Flacco out of the picture, the Broncos will start Brandon Allen on Sunday against the Browns. He’ll be backstopped by Brett Rypien, who was recently promoted from the practice squad.

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Broncos To Place Joe Flacco On IR?

Joe Flacco‘s season might be over. The Broncos are expected to place the quarterback on injured reserve, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). 

On Monday, the Broncos ruled out Flacco for Week 9 with a neck injury. That means Brandon Allen, who has never taken a regular season snap, will start against the Browns. He’ll have the newly-activated Drew Lock behind him, and possibly Brett Rypien, if he’s promoted from the practice squad. They haven’t taken an NFL snap yet either.

The Broncos are no stranger to the injury bug this year and Flacco has been familiar with it throughout his entire career. He missed time in 2015 and 2018 with maladies and also dealt with back pain in 2017.

The good news for Flacco is that surgery probably won’t be required and his career is not in jeopardy, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (on Twitter). Still, Flacco is looking at a 5-6 week absence, at the least. He’ll get a second opinion on Tuesday, which should inform the Broncos’ roster decision.

The Broncos are tethered to the 34-year-old through at least next season. After trading a fourth-round pick to acquire Flacco from the Ravens, they restructured the QB’s deal, which previously had no guaranteed money beyond 2019. If released after this season, Flacco would count for $13.6MM against the cap.

Without Flacco or a realistic shot at the postseason, the Broncos may look to ship out key players in advance of the trade deadline. Emmanuel Sanders is already gone and star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. could be the next to leave Denver.

In eight games this year, Flacco completed 65.3% of his passes, higher than any previous season in his career. He also threw only six touchdown passes against five touchdowns and turned in his lowest TD% ever.

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Broncos’ Joe Flacco Out For Week 9

The Broncos’ struggling offense will be in for a bigger test next week. Joe Flacco suffered a neck injury and will miss the team’s Week 9 game against the Browns, Vic Fangio said (via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, on Twitter).

That will move backup Brandon Allen into Denver’s starting lineup. Acquired just before the start of the regular season, Allen has never taken a regular-season snap. Drew Lock is eligible to come off IR this week, but Allen will get the call.

Flacco’s injury could mean a multi-week absence, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Fangio said IR is a possibility for Denver’s starter; Flacco going on IR would effectively end his season. Flacco is dealing with a herniated disk, the team announced. This puts the remainder of the 12th-year passer’s season in jeopardy.

This injury is not expected to require surgery, per 9News’ Mike Klis, who adds Lock will either be brought off IR this week or practice squad passer Brett Rypien will be promoted (Twitter links). The Broncos’ healthy quarterback contingent collectively has zero NFL pass attempts.

Flacco missed time in 2015 and 2018 due to injuries, and the longtime Raven dealt with back discomfort in 2017. The Broncos sent a fourth-round pick to the Ravens in exchange for Flacco. They also restructured his deal in September, tethering the 34-year-old quarterback to the 2020 cap sheet. Previously, Flacco had no guaranteed money on his deal post-2019. Now, $13.6MM in dead-money charges would come if the veteran is cut next year.

Flacco was critical of the Broncos’ play-calling in their loss to the Colts on Sunday and has them at 2-6 — Denver’s worst record after eight games since 2010. Allen was a sixth-round Jaguars pick out of Arkansas in 2016. He spent parts of the past two seasons with the Rams, before coming to Denver as a waiver claim.

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Latest On Joe Flacco

After Joe Flacco and the Broncos’ offense greatly struggled against the Chiefs this past Thursday, Vic Fangio was asked during his media availability Friday if the team will consider making changes on offense. “We consider that every week,” Fangio said. “Win or lose, but we’re not going to make a change just for the sake of making a change. We’ll look at it closely and weigh the alternatives, and we’ll make a decision.” Fangio was then asked if quarterback is one of the positions where they will consider making a change. His answer was short and to the point: “No.”

As of now, the only alternative to Joe Flacco is former Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, who is yet to attempt a pass in a regular season NFL game. Second-round pick Drew Lock is still on injured reserve and won’t be eligible to play until Week 11. After Lock returns, Denver will have to decide if he’s going to be activated to the 53-man roster. If Lock is brought back from IR, then a quarterback change could be on the horizon, and Flacco’s time in Denver could be over. 

However, if the Broncos decide to move on from Flacco after this year, his restructured contract could make such a move a costly one. $17MM of Flacco’s base salary this year was converted to a signing bonus, spread from 2019-2023, and created $13.6MM in immediate salary cap space for the Broncos. If the Broncos had not touched Flacco’s contract, the books would have been clean after this year if they chose to move on. Now, if they cut him in March, they will absorb a $13.6MM “dead” salary-cap charge in 2020. As of Friday, the Broncos have a little over $11MM cap space.

Through seven games, Flacco has thrown for 1,648 yards, with six touchdowns and five interceptions, while averaging a dismal 7.2 yards-per-attempt and taking 23 sacks. The 2-5 Broncos will look to rebound next week when they take on the Colts in Indianapolis.

Restructured Contract Details: Flacco, Solder, Panthers

With the majority of the NFL beginning their 2019 campaigns tomorrow, a number of teams have slightly tweaked contracts in an effort to open some extra cap space. We’ve compiled some of the notable restructured contracts from this morning, along with some details on some recently-completed deals.

  •  The Broncos converted $17MM of Joe Flacco‘s base salary into a signing bonus, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). The front office also added a pair of voidable years to the contract, thus opening around $13.6MM in 2019 cap space. The veteran quarterback is still on the books for $20.25MM in 2020 and $24.25MM in 2021.
  • The Giants made a similar move with offensive tackle Nate Solder, according to Pelissero (on Twitter). The front office converted $7.5MM of the veteran’s base salary to a fully-guaranteed roster bonus, opening up $5MM in cap space. Solder will still earn the same amount of money over the next two years ($13MM in 2019, $14MM in 2020).
  • One more from Pelissero (via Twitter): the Panthers restructured the contracts of defensive tackle Kawann Short and offensive lineman Trai Turner, opening $13MM in cap space. While the team could use that open money for extensions, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets that the transaction is “more about taking cap space into next year.” Linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback James Bradberry are impending free agents, while running back Christian McCaffrey and quarterback Cam Newton could be eyeing lucrative extensions.
  • The Rams converted $2.25MM of punter Johnny Hekker‘s base salary into a bonus, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The move opens up around $1.69MM in cap space, allowing the team is better accommodate the recent extensions for quarterback Jared Goff and tight end Tyler Higbee.
  • Center Mike Pouncey‘s one-year, $9MM extension with the Chargers will guarantee him $5MM in new money, tweets ESPN’s Dan Graziano (via Twitter). The guarantees include a $2.5MM signing bonus and $2.5MM guaranteed salary in 2020 (the full base salary is $6MM). The veteran’s cap number is now $10MM in 2019 and $7.75MM in 2020.
  • Jacoby Brissett‘s two-year, $30MM extension with the Colts includes an $11MM signing bonus, reports Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). The quarterback has a $2MM salary for 2019, $2MM in per-game roster bonuses (for both years), and a $7MM roster bonus that’s guaranteed in March. As Volin notes, the 26-year-old will likely earn around $13MM to $15MM this season before renegotiating next offseason.
  • Josh Doctson‘s deal with the Vikings is for one year at the league minimum of $720K, reports Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (via Twitter). The deal includes no guaranteed money. Following the signing of the wideout and punter Britton Colquitt, Minnesota is now sitting with around $1.17MM in cap space.

Broncos Considering Drew Lock IR Stay

After ceding his Ravens job to Lamar Jackson last season, Joe Flacco does not look to be in danger of a demotion in Denver. Drew Lock‘s injury timetable may be longer than initially anticipated.

Expected to need at least five weeks of recovery time before he can resume throwing, Lock is now a candidate for the Broncos’ IR list. Vic Fangio acknowledged (via ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold) that is in play for the second-round pick. Lock suffered a “fairly serious” sprain against the 49ers on Monday and said Thursday he is not sure when he will be able to throw again.

Should Lock land on IR to start the season, after being carried through to the Broncos’ 53-man roster, he would need to remain there for a minimum of eight regular-season weeks. That would use up one of Denver’s two IR-return slots. The team also will have running backs Andy Janovich and Theo Riddick sidelined into the season. Both are expected to return from injury fairly early in the regular season, so they don’t profile as IR candidates at this point.

This injury would stand to stunt Lock’s growth, and while it clears the way for Flacco to potentially start the whole season, Denver’s new starting quarterback has dealt with maladies in three of the past four seasons. A torn ACL ended Flacco’s 2015 campaign, a back injury limited him in the 2017 offseason, and a hip problem brought Jackson into Baltimore’s 2018 lineup. Flacco will not play in the Broncos’ fourth preseason game, with Fangio set to sit most of his starters then and in the team’s fifth and final August contest.

As was the case last season, Kevin Hogan is now expected to be the Broncos’ backup. The Broncos used Lock as their No. 2 passer in recent practices and in Monday’s game. They have rookie UDFA Brett Rypien as well, but the Boise State product did not play in either of the team’s past two preseason games and profiles more as a practice squad stash.

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West Rumors: Seahawks, Broncos, Brock

As he did during minicamp, Bobby Wagner attended Seahawks practice but merely as an observer. Pete Carroll confirmed (via ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson) the Seahawks and their four-time All-Pro linebacker are discussing an extension but did not elaborate on where the sides are in the process. Longtime Wagner linebacker sidekick K.J. Wright believes a deal is imminent, however. Any extension would probably have to make Wagner the highest-paid off-ball linebacker, and while Deion Jones‘ recent Falcons re-up bridged the gap between C.J. Mosley‘s $17MM-AAV pact and the field, the Jets linebacker still makes over $2.5MM per year more than any other traditional ‘backer. Wagner has confirmed he wants to exceed Mosley’s deal, and this may lead to the eighth-year standout continuing his hold-in strategy.

Shifting first to a former Seahawk who took a different contract-seeking approach last year, here is the latest from out west:

  • Earl Thomas skipped all Seahawks activities before making a pre-Week 1 return last year. Now with the Ravens, Thomas said (via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson, video link) Carroll communicated to him the week of his season-ending injury indicating an interest in working out a long-term deal. The reason Thomas then flipped off Carroll as he was being carted away? The three-time All-Pro did not believe Carroll was being honest with him. He and Carroll have not spoken since. The Seahawks were not linked to a potential Thomas reunion this offseason.
  • John Elway praised Joe Flacco throughout the Broncos‘ offseason program. One of the reasons why Elway targeted him was a belief the Ravens did not surround him with enough talent or a good system, after Gary Kubiak left his OC post to become Broncos HC in 2015, during his latter years in Baltimore. New Denver OC Rich Scangarello‘s system is derived from Kubiak’s. “To me, he hasn’t had a great system and he hasn’t had great people around him,” Elway said, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala (subscription required). “So he can have success when you have people around him and he’s in the right system, which I think he is because this is the system he’s had success in.” The Broncos, who relied heavily on Emmanuel Sanders and Phillip Lindsay last season before their year-ending injuries, are banking on second-year wideouts Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton making strides in Year 2.
  • While Mike Munchak lost out to Vic Fangio in the pursuit of Denver’s HC job, the Broncos’ offensive line coach has seen his role quickly expand. Munchak now has influence over the Broncos’ passing game and rushing attack, Jhabvala notes. Munchak worked as the Steelers’ O-line coach the past five seasons — each ending with a Pittsburgh top-10 offensive ranking.
  • The Cardinals are focusing Tramaine Brock on a role as a slot cornerback, Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com notes. Brock mostly played outside under Vance Joseph last season, prior to Chris Harris‘ season-ending injury. On the outside, second-round pick Byron Murphy and second-year corner Chris Jones are the top candidates vying to play opposite Robert Alford. This arrangement looks like the plan until Patrick Peterson returns from his six-game suspension.

AFC North Notes: Jackson, Steelers, Bengals

The RavensLamar Jackson interest began before his junior year at Louisville. It escalated a few weeks before the 2018 draft. During a disagreement among Ravens staffers regarding quarterback preferences going into a draft that would have five QBs taken in the first round, John Harbaugh pronounced his willingness to build a new offense around the dual-threat passer.

If we draft Lamar, I’m good with that,” Harbaugh said during an hours-long discussion about Jackson (via The Athletic’s Dan Pompei, subscription required). “We can build an offense around him. We’ll play great special teams, great defense and be a ball-control offense. We’ll build a big, physical offensive line. We’ll get physical running backs. We’ll block on the perimeter. We’ll run all the elements of the college offense. We’ll do something different.”

After choosing Jackson, the Ravens rode some of Greg Roman‘s Colin Kaepernick-based concepts to a division title. Harbaugh, Roman and then-OC Marty Mornhinweg considered going back to Joe Flacco when the Ravens’ offense stalled for much of their wild-card loss to the Chargers, but each of Harbaugh’s assistants agreed Jackson gave the team the best chance to win. As for the Ravens’ 2019 offense, it will feature similar run designs to what was used last season. But Pompei adds the passing attack was considerably revamped in the offseason.

I expect this to change the way offensive football is played in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “Not that everybody is going to take on this style. But I expect us to create something that hasn’t been seen before. … I think we’re going to be in more elements than any team has ever been.”

Here is the latest from the AFC North, shifting first to Pittsburgh:

  • This weekend, Artie Burns is due an $800K bonus. If the Steelers are to move on from the former first-round pick who has not lived up to that billing, they would stand to limit their losses by doing so soon. Burns’ camp, however, is confident the fourth-year corner will still be a Steeler by week’s end, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Pittsburgh still has Joe Haden and Mike Hilton and added UFA addition Steven Nelson and third-round pick Justin Layne.
  • A hamstring injury will move T.J. Watt to the Steelers’ active/PUP list, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. The Pro Bowl outside linebacker should be expected to return fairly soon.
  • The Bengals placed Darqueze Dennard and running back Rodney Anderson on their active/PUP list. Dennard underwent offseason knee surgery, while Anderson’s college career ended after an ACL tear. The former Oklahoma running back is a candidate for the reserve/PUP list to start the season, per Fletcher Page of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Should Anderson stay on the PUP list to start the season, he must remain there for six regular-season weeks.

Broncos’ John Elway Talks Retirement, Flacco, Rookies

Things haven’t necessarily gone as planned for the Broncos since they won the Super Bowl during the 2015 campaign. The organization hasn’t made the postseason in three years, and they’ve combined for only 11 wins over the past two seasons.

Fortunately, there’s reason for optimism. The Broncos got some solid production from their 2018 draft class, including defensive end Bradley Chubb, wideout Courtland Sutton, and running back Royce Freeman. The front office loaded up in talent once again during the 2019 draft, and they also added a number of veterans with the hope of making the postseason.

SI.com’s Albert Breer recently sat down with general manager and president of football operations John Elway to discuss his future in the NFL, his team-building philosophy, and his team’s chances in 2019. The whole article is worth reading, but we’ve pulled out some of the notable soundbites below:

On whether he’s thought about retiring:

“You know, I haven’t. I’ve got two and a half years left on my contract, I’m getting close to 60, which is hard to believe. At that point in time, you start to kind of look at it day-to-day and week-to-week. I’m still enjoying what I’m doing. I want to be able to put a quality product on the field and compete for a championship. I think we’re headed in that direction. I’m excited about Vic [Fangio].

“So we’ll take it a year at a time and see how it goes.”

On the Broncos ability to mix young players with veterans:

“You’re building with youth, but also trying to be competitive in the year that you’re in. If you had the success that we had back in 2013, ’14, ’15, it’s hard to keep the whole band together—and then you lose the quarterback. Our goal is always to be competitive, and improve, and add youth to that too. That’s always the tough thing to do, while you try to get the right mentality that you better win football games.”

On the acquisition of quarterback Joe Flacco:

“That position is so important, not just in the player you have there, but also the confidence it adds to the rest of your team. And I think our players know, the young guys as well as the veterans, that [Flacco] has been in battles, he’s won a championship, and he know what it takes. So just the confidence that the rest of the team has in that position and the player that’s playing that position is extremely important.

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Latest On Broncos’ QB Situation

The Broncos traded for veteran QB Joe Flacco in February with the clear intention of having him serve as their starting signal-caller for at least the 2019 season. But given the state of Denver’s quarterback situation since Peyton Manning retired, GM John Elway hedged his bets in a big way, drafting talented but raw prospect Drew Lock in the second round of this year’s draft and handing a $136K guarantee to UDFA Brett Rypien.

Mike Klis of 9News.com examined the status of the Broncos’ QB depth chart as we inch closer to training camp, and to no one’s surprise, Flacco is the unquestioned starter. His performance during early Broncos practices this year made Elway comfortable enough to eschew a QB prospect in the first round of the draft, and despite some speculation that Lock could push Flacco for the starting job at some point in 2019, Klis says the long-time Raven will be Denver’s one and only quarterback this season, provided he stays healthy. The fact that Flacco has looked his best when playing in an offense similar to the one that new OC Rich Scangarello runs will certainly help his cause, and he built on his strong work early in the offseason by continuing to play well throughout OTAs and minicamp.

Klis notes that Lock has shown flashes of his potential, but his decision-making and ability to read defenses still need a great deal of refinement, and the Missouri product will have a legitimate battle with Kevin Hogan for the club’s backup job. Hogan has started just one game in his professional career, but he apparently showed enough in practice in 2018 for Denver to re-sign him this offseason. However, if Lock wins the No. 2 spot, then Hogan will likely be cut, with the third-string job going to Rypien. If Lock struggles and cedes the backup role to Hogan, then Rypien may be forced onto the practice squad, where he could be poached by another team.

The AFC West looks as if it will be a highly-competitive division in 2019, and Denver will not have an easy road back to the playoffs after a three-year absence. But if Lock shows significant improvement and can become a real candidate to start in 2020, that would be a decent consolation prize.

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