By Bryan DeArdo
(CBS SPORTS) – Joe Flacco, after one season in Denver, will be back on the open market sometime soon. It is likely that the Broncos, who are expected to go forward with Drew Lock as their starting quarterback, will release Flacco, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Broncos reportedly agreed to a contract with former Bengals and Lions backup Jeff Driskel on Tuesday.
Flacco, 35, went 2-6 as the Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2019. Flacco’s season ended prematurely, as a neck injury he sustained in Week 8 landed him on injured reserve. Before getting injured, Flacco completed a career high 65.3% of his passes with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Flacco was unable to parlay that success into wins, however, as Denver lost four one-score games with Flacco under center. Lock, a rookie last season, went 4-1 as a starter while helping the Broncos finish the 2019 season with a 7-9 record.
Despite being openly critical of the Broncos’ play-calling last season, Flacco said earlier this year that he would like to return to the Broncos.
“Of course,” Flacco told the Broncos’ website when asked about coming back for a second season in Denver. “I want the opportunity at some level and if that ends up being here in whatever capacity that is, then that’d be great.”
Instead, the Broncos will move forward with Lock as the starter and Driskel behind him. Driskel went 1-7 in eight starts for the Bengals and Lions over the last two seasons and has totaled 1,688 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 59.4% of his passes in his career. Much of his value is tied to his rushing ability, as the quarterback has racked up 281 on 47 carries (6.0-yard average) while adding three touchdowns.
While Flacco could likely sign with a team as a backup, it’s unclear how many teams are interested in him being their starting quarterback. Several teams that are in need of a quarterback, specifically the Bengals, Chargers and Dolphins, are expected to use their first-round picks on a quarterback.
Flacco won’t be the only former franchise quarterback in search of a new team this offseason. Jameis Winston, who led the NFL in passing last season, is not expected to remain with the Buccaneers with the team’s reported signing of Tom Brady. Andy Dalton, who helped lead the Broncos to the playoffs five straight years from 2011-15, is also expected to be traded sometime soon.