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Broncos mailbag: Fans react to Joe Flacco trade, wonder what's next

The Denver Broncos would like to bring back OL Billy Turner.
Credit: AP
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco passes during the NFL football game against the XXX, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

KUSA – Nothing like a trade for a new quarterback to fill up a mailbag.

The 9News Broncos Mailbag was so stuffed, we answered not only 9 letters, but three bonus inquiries.

Joe Flacco. Seriously? What makes anyone think he's better than Keenum? And don't tell me about his past. This league is about what you've done for me lately. And lately, he's pretty much done nothing.

--Dennis DeJulio, Aurora

Dennis – From what I’ve gathered from others around town, you’re not alone in your assessment of the Flacco trade.

To your point, Flacco ranked 28th among NFL quarterbacks in passing efficiency in 2018; 25th in 2017; 24th in 2016; and 30th in 2015.

But a key for the Broncos was Flacco went 10-6 and won a playoff game in 2014, when Gary Kubiak was his offensive coordinator. Flacco will be operating in a similar, Kubiak-styled offense in Denver with new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, who trained under Kyle Shanahan, who trained under Kubiak and his father, Mike Shanahan.

But I do think Flacco is better than Case Keenum, Dennis. I can’t give you passing stats, necessarily. But Flacco has proven to be a better winner than passer. He has a 96-67 record as a starter with an 84.1 career passer rating. Keenum is 26-28 with an 84.5 rating.

Additionally, Dennis, I refer you to the story 9NEWS published Sunday. 

RELATED | Joe Flacco has these 9 Hall of Fame QBs for next-chapter inspiration

Nine other Hall of Fame quarterbacks at one time were considered washed up by their original teams, only to prove them wrong after landing with another team. And while Flacco is no Hall of Famer, either was Kurt Warner until he had a late-career comeback with the Arizona Cardinals. Same goes for the careers of Y.A. Tittle, Fran Tarkenton and Sonny Jurgensen.

I know it didn’t end well for Flacco in Baltimore. He lost his starting job to a rookie who is a poor passer, even if Lamar Jackson is exciting.

But with my own eyes, I saw Flacco play very well in week 3 last season, completing 25 of 40 for 277 yards and a touchdown without a pick in a 27-14 win against the Broncos.

The next week, he threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in a 26-14 win against Pittsburgh.

So it wasn’t that long ago that Flacco was playing well. Worst case, Flacco is a Band Aid on a Band Aid (Keenum). Best case, he becomes a nice fit in the Scangarello offense and has two or three more quality seasons left in him.

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, left, sacks Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Denver.

Mike, do you think it would be possible to trade Case Keenum if the Broncos offered to pay half of his guaranteed money?

Steve Swendler

Steve – It’s not the $7 million full guarantee, but $18 million total salary for 2019 that makes Keenum virtually untradeable.

Perhaps, the Broncos and Keenum can agree on a restructured deal that would make Keenum more attractive to other teams.

The Philadelphia Eagles would be a possible destination for Keenum. The Eagles have always invested more than others in backup quarterbacks and after they move Nick Foles – probably to Jacksonville or Washington – Keenum would make sense as a backup to Carson Wentz.

Remember, the Eagles broke the backup QB market three years ago when they brought in Chase Daniel as a $7 million-a-year backup.

It could work out so Keenum is released and signs for say, $1 million with the Eagles, which would leave the Broncos on the hook for $6 million.

Washington, Jacksonville and the New York Giants would also be logical destinations for Keenum. The Broncos decided Keenum was a playoff-caliber starting quarterback. But he now hits the market as one of the league’s best No. 2 quarterbacks.

It doesn’t pay as well. But there still should be a strong market.

Billy Turner and Domata Peko. Are they gonna re-sign them?

 --Youssef Shawky

Youssef – The Broncos are talking to the agent of Turner, the versatile offensive lineman. He might be the one guy from the Broncos’ group of 14 unrestricted free agent players the team would like to sign back before the market’s negotiating window opens March 11.

Turner was waived early in the 2016 season by Adam Gase in Miami, then reeled for a while, before it came together with the Broncos this season.

He may have been the team’s most valuable offensive lineman in 2018 as he started four games at right tackle in place of the injured Jared Veldheer, then started seven more games at left guard after the Broncos had to shift people around to replace the injured Matt Paradis, Ron Leary and Max Garcia.

All this for a $2 million salary. He’ll get more in his next deal. The tricky part is, how much more?

I do not think the Broncos will bring back Peko. He gave them two solid years as a starting nose tackle, but he’s 34 and in the NFL, they’re always looking to get younger.

Credit: AP Photo/Joe Mahoney
In this Oct. 15, 2017, file photo, Denver Broncos nose tackle Domata Peko reacts during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Denver.

Will DeMarcus Ware be back coaching, and do you think Domata Peko comes back?

--Michelle Cahn

Cahn – There’s been no discussion of bringing back Ware, who was brought in last year by head coach Vance Joseph to serve as a part-time, pass-rush coach. I thought it was an awkward situation. We saw more of DeMarcus competing on Dancing with the Stars than we did coaching Bradley Chubb on the Broncos’ practice field.

Ware was brought in partly because the Broncos didn’t have an outside linebacker coach. Now they do as head coach Vic Fangio brought Brandon Staley with him from the Chicago Bears to coach outside linebackers. So, I do not expect Ware to return.

As for Peko, see my previous response to Youssef.

Why is nobody mentioning Denver moving up into the Draft's No. 2-3 range to select Dwayne Haskins? I'm aware of the reports about Elway and Drew Lock, but a move that high shouldn't be for Lock, especially if Haskins is still on the board. Personally, I think he would be the QB to target with a move that high rather than Drew Lock. Regardless, how do you think Haskins would fit into Scangarello's system? 

--Nathaniel Healy

Nathaniel – I mentioned a couple weeks ago on 9News about the possibility of John Elway and San Francisco’s John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan working out a swap for the 49ers’ No. 2 pick to take Haskins, a quarterback from Ohio State.

But that no longer makes sense for two reasons. One, Flacco. He’s now the Broncos’ starting quarterback. And, two, the Broncos have so many other roster needs, they can’t surrender all those top picks to get what would be their backup quarterback in 2019.

Swapping out No. 10 for No.2 would cost the Broncos at the very least the equivalent of their second- and third-round picks. Maybe next year the Broncos make that move. But not after they just got Flacco.

But I do think Haskins is the best pro quarterback prospect and I wouldn’t be surprised if John Elway believes so, too, after he goes through the evaluation process. Which ramps up next week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Do the Denver Broncos fill team needs more in Free Agency or in the 2019 Draft? I know Broncos fans always expect a free agency like 2014 when we practically bought a championship team.

--Kyle Begay

Kyle – Free agency fills the needs first. The idea is to fill as many holes as possible in free agency, then get the proverbial best-player available six weeks later in the draft.

Especially at receiver, the Broncos must use free agency or trade. They went to the draft last year to nab Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton. Now they need a veteran complement, especially with Emmanuel Sanders coming off an Achilles tear.

The Broncos will never duplicate their free-agent class of 2014. It’s not possible as you can argue it was the best in NFL history: DeMarcus Ware the pass rusher, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Emmanuel Sanders. Incredible.

The Broncos had the top recruiting tool to land those players: Peyton Manning. Not just Peyton Manning the icon, but Peyton Manning coming off his record-setting passing season of 2013.

Oh, and the Broncos also had the money to pay those players. Ware got three years and $30 million and Talib signed for six years and $57 million. Ward (4 years, $22.5 million) and Sanders (three years, $15 million) got more affordable deals.

But the Big Four were all quality veterans who wanted to win and the chances of winning begins and ends with a team’s quarterback. They all got Super Bowl rings in 2015.

Two-part question. First, for the NFL's celebration of the 100th season, will there be any special uniform situations across the league where teams will wear patches or have restrictions lessened for using alternative or throw-backs? Also for the Broncos, are there any efforts for making something like the Color Rush a permanent change in the future (moving to white pants of course)?

--Steve Buerge in Highlands Ranch

Steve – The 100th season is a league-wide initiative and it’s also the Broncos’ 60th season. Parrtt-yy!

There will be a 100th patch for all teams. I would expect the Broncos to honor their all-time greats in conjunction with the Hall of Fame celebrations of owner Pat Bowlen and cornerback Champ Bailey. Bailey will head the Broncos’ new Ring of Fame class that should be announced when the committee gathers in April.

The Broncos are looking into possibly incorporating different uniform designs this season, but nothing is finalized.

Credit: AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Denver Broncos fans pose before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Denver.

Mike, when will renewal notices for season ticket-holders go out?

--Bob Burdick, Greenwood Village

Bob – You’re eager to see how much more you’re going to have to pay this year? I was told renewal notices are going out in the next week. Look at the price hike this way, Bob. The average ticket went from $101.30 to $103.06, or 1.7 percent. My favorite candy bar -- Hershey’s with almonds -- went up 2.5 percent.

With the addition of Joe Flacco what direction do you think the Broncos go with the draft? Do they make the defense better since Vic is a defensive head coach or do they go more offense to protect Joe and get him more weapons? Thanks love the insight. 

--Preston Schneider

Preston – Remember, free agency fills the needs the first. Then the draft. But in general, with Flacco in, I think cornerback is their next biggest need. Most mocksters have Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy and Deandre Baker as the top three corners in the draft

Inside linebacker Devin White would make sense. An offensive tackle would be good.

The Broncos are going to closely evaluate the top quarterbacks: Haskins, Lock, Kyler Murray for the first round, and others for the later rounds. With Flacco in the fold, it would make sense to wait until at least the second round before taking a QB – as they did in 2012 with Brock Osweiler to follow up the veteran acquisition of Manning.

Credit: AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis (61) leaves the game after an injury against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Denver.

Mike, do you see the 2019 OL as, LT Bolles, LG Leary, C McGovern, RG Turner and RT Veldheer or not?

--Todd Allerdings

Todd – My first inclination is to shift Billy Turner from right guard to right tackle. Jared Veldheer had a solid season for the Broncos, but they’re not in a rush to bring him back. Perhaps, if Veldheer doesn’t draw much interest in the free-agent market, the Broncos would consider bringing him back.

Here’s a Matt Paradis update: The Broncos recently contacted his agent and they will talk again at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis next week. But it seems likely Paradis, the Broncos’ four-year starting center who is coming off a fractured fibula, is going to reach the free-agent market.

And history shows that once a player hits the market, the chances of returning to his team diminish considerably.

If Paradis signs elsewhere, there’s a good chance it will be Garett Bolles, Ron Leary and Connor McGovern, left to right, along the Broncos’ front.

I would shift Billy Turner from right guard to right tackle. Which would leave free agency, the draft or Elijah Wilkinson to fill the right guard position. If Paradis returns, McGovern would be the right guard.

Hey Mike, any thoughts on the Broncos trading down in the first round? I’d love a first three rounds that produced some combination of (offensive tackle) Greg Little and (cornerback) Deandre Baker in the first round; (inside linebacker) Devin Bush or (tight end) Noah Fant in the second and (cornerback) Trayvon Mullen in the third. Any omissions or suggestions to look out for.

--Adrian Watson

Adrian – Sounds like you know your stuff. Last year, the Raiders traded their No. 10 pick to Arizona in exchange for its No. 15 pick and selections in the third and fifth round. Arizona took quarterback Josh Rosen. Oakland took offensive tackle Kolton Miller at No. 15, turned their third-round pick into Pittsburgh receiver Martavis Bryant and packaged their fifth-round selection with two other picks to trade up in the third round to take another offensive tackle, Brandon Parker.

So it would be much more fun if the Broncos did trade down from No. 10. Washington has the No. 15 pick this year and needs a quarterback. The Redskins might not need to jump ahead of No. 11 Cincinnati or No. 13 Miami to get their man.  

Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman (28) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Denver.

Big fan from the UK! I was wondering whether you think Royce Freeman will be more involved offensively next year in Coach Scangarello’s zone-run scheme?

--Dean Jeffery

Dean – He’ll get a chance to become more involved. But Phillip Lindsay will get the first chance. I think Lindsay proved he’s a legit No. 1 running back.

There may be concern his wrist surgery will cost him some upper body strength as he won’t be able to properly work out his upper body this offseason. There was an eight-game stretch last season from the Arizona win in week 7 to Cleveland loss in week 15 when Lindsay averaged 17.5 touches per game.

Perhaps for his long-term preservation, those touches should be reduced by two or three. But it’s difficult to put burst on the bench.

Freeman was a rookie starter the first seven games last season, then suffered a two-game knee injury and got passed up by the dust devil that is Lindsay.

Freeman was OK last year with 521 yards on 4.0-yards per carry, but not great. This is a big year for him.

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