Before we get into the GM-side of what went down last Thursday, let’s be real for a second. It doesn’t matter if you think Joe Flacco is awful, just okay, or elite — he’s the best quarterback the Baltimore Ravens have ever had on their roster. You could argue, outside of Ray Lewis, that Flacco has been the most impactful player to ever wear the purple and black. Sure, he’ll never be a Pro Football Hall of Famer, but he’ll be a Ravens Hall of Famer. The year after he calls it quits he’ll be back at M&T Bank Stadium to have his name hoisted onto the side of the upper bowl. How will we receive the Flacco family that afternoon? I hope – and I think – it will be with resounding gratitude and appreciation for what he did for the franchise.
Has there ever been a more classy yet polarizing figure in Baltimore sports? From the start of his career to the finish, Joe Flacco went about his business with the utmost professionalism, and for more years than not, he went about his real business – quarterbacking the Ravens – very well. He won rookie of the year and led Baltimore to the AFC Championship game in 2008. He won the AFC North and outplayed Tom Brady in Foxborough in 2011. He had one of the best postseason runs in NFL history in 2012, completing the Mile High Miracle, getting over the hump that was the Championship game, and lifted the Lombardi Trophy as MVP. For the first 7 seasons he started all 16 games. As much as people wanted to label him as inconsistent, he was actually the opposite, stabilizing the QB position in Baltimore. For all the success he brought to this organization — and for being the only guy I can remember taking snaps — I must say, thank you, Joe.
Now, turning the page and sitting in Eric DeCosta’s seat, I must say, we may have swindled Denver here. I know a lot of people may have hoped for more in return, but if you actually stop to think about the circumstances under which the Ravens were trading Flacco, DeCosta has done a terrific job. Consider the situation: Flacco had been playing awful football for the previous five years or so before being replaced by a youngster widely viewed as a project. On top of that, everyone knew that the Ravens were ending their relationship with Flacco, even if that meant cutting him. Even more, Flacco’s contract was a hefty sum of money for any team to take on (though that could be irrelevant if the team had cut him). Therefore, the only reason to trade for the slinger was to eliminate the bidding war that could take place in free agency.
After looking at all that, it makes sense to compare this trade to that made by the Kansas City Chiefs last year. Alex Smith, KC’s quarterback for the past few years, had taken the Chiefs to the playoffs regularly and had performed at an exceptional level in the 2017 season. He had a similar contract to the one Flacco commands today, but there was not an overwhelming knowledge that he would be leaving the team, giving the Chiefs leverage that the Ravens didn’t have. Here are the official details of that trade:
Redskins receive: Alex Smith
Chiefs receive: Kendall Fuller, 2018 3rd-round draft pick (NT Derrick Nnadi)
Given the circumstances, I think the Ravens did a beautiful job of getting decent value for Flacco when everyone knew that he was a goner. Especially knowing how well the Ravens have done in the fourth round in recent years (Kenny Young, Tavon Young, Chris Moore, Alex Lewis, Willie Henry, Za’Darius Smith, Buck Allen), it looks we might be getting a solid contributor in return for the former signal-caller.
If we look at the three moves that Eric DeCosta has made early in his career as GM, all of the decisions have been whoppers. First, as one of the first things he did after officially filling the role, DeCosta said goodbye to offensive coordinator Marty Morhninweg. That move was well-praised across Baltimore. Next, the Ravens extended John Harbaugh for 4 more years, committing to him as the man to ring in the new regime. Though it wasn’t as widely renowned, I’d still say this was appreciated by the majority. Finally, on Thursday morning, DeCosta dealt Joe Flacco to Denver for a 4th-round pick. Thank you, Eric; Thank you, Joe.