Earlier today it was announced that the Baltimore Ravens are trading QB Joe Flacco to Denver:
Source: The Broncos have agreed to send their 2019 fourth-round pick to Baltimore for QB Joe Flacco. Good price for a QB on an affordable contract with a great playoff resume.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 13, 2019
So, why should fans of the Minnesota Vikings care?
Well, for one, it’s news that involves our old friend Case Keenum. As we all know, he signed a free agent contract with the Broncos last year, and it looks like once again, he’ll be on the move.
No, I’m not advocating for him to return to the Vikings. I’m going to ride or die with Kirk Cousins, and yes Cousins is a better overall QB...but that said, has there been a more disrespected QB in recent NFL memory than Case Keenum? He took the Vikes to the NFC Championship two years ago, kept the Broncos in the playoff hunt longer than they probably should have been last year, and is now on the trading block. If he’s not traded, he’ll probably get cut.
Even though Keenum wasn’t a long term answer in Denver, it’s a puzzling move by the Broncos. At this point in his career, Flacco doesn’t seem like that much of an upgrade over Keenum, save for arm strength. With Flacco scheduled to make $26.5 million and Keenum scheduled to make $21 million (numbers per Over The Cap dot com), Denver can’t go into next year with close to 50 large invested at one position. So Keenum is the odd man out here, via trade or outright release. If Denver can’t trade him, depending on when they cut him, it will be either a $10 million (pre June 1) or $11 million (post June 1) dead money cap hit. I don’t think anyone would trade for him as a starter and take on his contract, so the Broncos just ate more than $10 million in dead money for only one season in return.
And people on here think Rick Spielman is an idiot.
But what happens to Case Keenum and the Broncos salary cap shouldn’t be the focus on why we care as Vikings fans, at least in my opinion. The big reason is the QB dynamic in Denver, and how it affects their upcoming draft strategy, if at all. At the Senior Bowl, one of the worst kept secrets was Broncos GM John Elway and his never ending search for a long time answer at QB:
Interesting context of this Broncos trade:— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) February 13, 2019
John Elway told Drew Lock at the Senior Bowl he would be a top-10 pick.
Does it mean Elway is worried Lock won’t make it to Denver’s No. 10 pick?
Or could he still draft Lock there? (Or was Elway just blowing smoke?)
With the Broncos picking 10th, and Elway now Captain Ahab still searching for his great white whale in the shape of an NFL QB, that position could still very much be in play for them at ten. If not, there are a slew of really good offensive linemen that will be on the board there, and most sites that discuss team needs in the draft identify offensive tackle as a need right up there with QB for Denver.
Depending on how the draft unfolds, Drew Lock, Dwayne Haskins, or Kyler Murray should still be available at ten. If Elway and the Broncos look to Flacco as their new bridge QB to the next guy, like they probably did Keenum last year, taking a QB here makes sense. That also means that after the first ten picks, every offensive lineman the Vikings are targeting could very well be on the board. Well, if you believe that teams will go after defensive linemen early and often like many people are projecting right now, that is.
However, if the top three QB’s are gone, Denver could shift their focus and go offensive line, take a guy like Jonah Williams or Yodney Cajuste, assuming they’re still available, and start a run on o-line that could develop into one we saw unfold last year, when all the offensive linemen that were projected to the Vikings were already gone by the time Minnesota went on the clock.
Lots of things still have to happen before we get to the draft, and depending what happens in free agency, offensive lineman might not even be a primary need for Denver or the Vikings come draft weekend.
But this is still something to think about and consider how it could affect the Vikes as we move one step closer to the draft.