Free Agency Watch: Former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco Is a QB Without a Franchise
Flacco has a losing record since his record-setting postseason in 2013
Because every major American sport that’s typically played at this time of year is now in absentia thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re shifting our attention to the most important signings, trades, rumors and trends around the NFL via a dedicated daily column. This is Free Agency Watch.
It’s been a big offseason for former Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
Besides Tom Brady, Drew Brees re-signed in New Orleans for $50 million, Nick Foles got traded from Jacksonville to Chicago and could start for the Bears, and Eli Manning bowed out gracefully after announcing he will not be back with the Giants (or any other NFL team).
Then there’s ex-Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
The MVP of Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco was traded from Baltimore to Denver prior to last season but was released by the Broncos yesterday with a “failed physical” designation. By releasing Flacco, who was placed on injured reserve halfway through last season with a herniated disk in his neck after going 2-6 as Denver’s starting quarterback, the Broncos save more than $10 million against this year’s salary cap.
Now an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, the 35-year-old Flacco reportedly wants to continue playing. But it remains to be seen if any NFL team will want his services.
Never one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL despite being paid like one after throwing 11 touchdown and no interceptions in route to a 4-0 record and Super Bowl victory over the 49ers in 2013, Flacco has a record of 44-47 as a starter over his last seven seasons.
He’s not a mobile quarterback (a shortcoming that has only intensified following a torn ACL in 2015) and might also be carrying a chronic neck injury, so despite posting a 98-73 record as a starter with 40,067 passing yards and 218 touchdowns over 12 NFL seasons, Flacco may have his retirement forced on him.
At the end of the day, that might not be such a bad thing for a guy who turned a miraculous four-game championship run into more than $150 million in career earnings, good enough for 12th on the NFL’s all-time earnings list and ahead of guys like Brett Favre, Cam Newton and Tony Romo.
If he does retire, Flacco’s career comps will include Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Jim Plunkett, Matt Hasselbeck and Mark Brunell, according to Pro Football Reference — all good-to-mediocre, but certainly not great, quarterbacks. (Like Flacco, Cutler — $122,196,087 in career earnings — was paid like one.)
As of now, we don’t know if Flacco is going to hang up his cleats, but one player who was released but won’t be retiring is running back Todd Gurley, who signed a one-year deal for $5 million with the Falcons after being cut by the Rams.
Taken in the same 2015 draft class as Gurley, running back Melvin Gordon has agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed with the Denver Broncos after spending the first portion of his career with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Meanwhile, tight end Eric Ebron, who has bounced around the NFL but played for the Colts last season, signed with the Steelers for two years and $12 million. New teammate Ben Roethlisberger also said in a recent interview that he is “throwing without pain for the first time in years” and has “no doubt” he will be able to “come back and play well.”
Elsewhere in the NFL, the Saints re-signed left guard Andrus Peat to a five-year, $57.5 million contract, the Cowboys signed former Bears and Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and the Patriots signed ex-Pro Bowl safety Adrian Phillips, formerly of the Chargers, to a two-year contract.
New England’s 42-year-old former quarterback also officially signed his two-year contract with Tampa Bay, and it reportedly includes $50 million in guarantees with $9 million in added incentives.
To give Brady more offensive firepower, the Buccaneers are said to be interested in re-signing wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who is now a free agent.
Meanwhile, Mike Giardi of the NFL Network reports the Patriots are “unlikely” to target free-agent quarterback Jameis Winston to replace Brady in New England.
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