Why Broncos QB Joe Flacco Could Be Cut Before the 2020 NFL Season

It was only 2013 when Joe Flacco took the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory with one of the best postseason performances for a quarterback in NFL history. Now, he may find himself the odd man out with the Denver Broncos. Denver brought Flacco in to compete for the starting quarterback job last season. While the team and Flacco were optimistic he still had something left in the tank, it now appears that they may move on. Here’s why the Broncos might cut Joe Flacco before the 2020 NFL season. 

The career path of Joe Flacco

The Ravens drafted Joe Flacco with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2008 NFL draft. Flacco eventually replaced starter Steve McNair, leading Baltimore to a Super Bowl title in the 2012-2013 NFL season over the San Francisco 49ers. 

Flacco was rewarded with a big deal from the Baltimore Ravens following his stellar postseason. Unfortunately, he was never able to duplicate that season. The Ravens never got back to the Super Bowl with Flacco, and his play deteriorated. 

Fast forward to the 2018 NFL Draft. The Ravens drafted former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson out of Louisville. During the 2018 season, Jackson eventually supplanted Flacco as the starter. The Ravens went to the playoffs with Jackson and sent Flacco to Denver. 

Flacco started the season as Denver’s starting quarterback but was eventually beaten out by a rookie for the second time in as many years. 

Drew Lock’s rise in Denver

In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Broncos selected Missouri quarterback Drew Lock with the 42nd overall pick in the second round. Lock was clearly the Broncos’ long-term option at quarterback. Flacco bristled at the idea of mentoring Lock, saying it wasn’t his job. By week 13, Lock had taken Flacco’s spot as the starting quarterback.

In four starts with Denver, Lock went 3-1 with 1,020 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Lock’s best performance was a 38-24 win over playoff-bound Houston that included three touchdowns. Lock’s only loss came at the hands of the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs. His ability to win more games than he lost gave Broncos fans hope for the future – and a clearer idea of exactly who they wanted at quarterback for the foreseeable future. 

Why Denver might cut Joe Flacco before the 2020 NFL season

Joe Flacco's first year with the Broncos had its ups and downs, and if Denver cuts him in the offseason, it might be his only season there.
Joe Flacco on the Broncos’ sideline. | Eric Lutzens/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

It appears as though Lock is the man in Denver. With this, it should come as no surprise that the team will plan to move on from Joe Flacco. But is there any chance they could bring him back as a backup?

Flacco’s time in Denver could be coming to an end for two major reasons: 

  • The salary cap
  • The emergence of Lock as a viable starter

If the Broncos keep Flacco, he’d be due a cap hit of over $23 million next season. Cutting him will save them roughly $10 million. If they plan to move forward with Lock – which, after this season, it appears that they do – keeping Flacco seems foolish. They can’t afford to sink that much money into a backup quarterback. 

The other elephant in the room is that keeping Flacco on the team may create the perception that the team doesn’t trust Lock as the starter. They’d appear to be hedging their bets – if Lock doesn’t play well, they can always reinsert Flacco. By cutting Flacco and bringing in a castoff or rookie quarterback, the team makes it clear that Lock is the guy. 

This may be the last shot for Flacco, but he’ll likely get at least one more shot to catch on somewhere to start for a quarterback-starved team. At the very least, he’ll get the opportunity to be a backup.