Fri Mar 15 2:57pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco jokes with reporters at a news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway, left, and head coach Vic Fangio listen at as quarterback Joe Flacco speaks news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters, Friday, March 15, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos new quarterback Joe Flacco talks to reporters during a news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters Friday, March 15, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, center, holds his new team's helmet as general manager John Elway, left, and head coach Vic Fangio join in for a photograph during a news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters Friday, March 15, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Denver Broncos new quarterback Joe Flacco, left, waits with head coach Vic Fangio to talk to reporters at a news conference at the NFL football team's headquarters Friday, March 15, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) John Elway insists Joe Flacco is at the top of his game at age 34 even though the former Baltimore Ravens quarterback hasn't thrown a pass in the playoffs since 2015.
''Joe is a perfect fit for us,'' Elway said at Flacco's introductory news conference Friday. ''He's played in a lot of big games, he has a lot of good football left in him. At 34, (I) feel like he's just really coming into his prime.''
That echoed comments Elway made Wednesday when he told the NFL Network that Flacco's ''arm strength is still great'' and ''he's just going into his prime,'' even though the veteran QB was supplanted by rookie Lamar Jackson last season and didn't play in the Ravens' wild-card loss to the Chargers.
Elway, who sent a fourth-round pick to Baltimore for Flacco in a deal worked out five weeks ago, trusts he's finally found a worthy successor to Peyton Manning - another Super Bowl winner who came to Denver for the second chapter of his storied career.
Flacco said he'd love to reach out to Manning as he tries to follow his lead in Denver.
''I am new to this. It's completely different and obviously I'm going to find my way through it mostly on my own,'' Flacco said. ''But ... it would probably be a huge benefit to talk to somebody like him, who has not only gone through it but has been successful.''
It also appears Elway is trying hard to sell his latest quarterback acquisition to an antsy and skeptical fan base that has suffered through Mark Sanchez's flop, Trevor Siemian's fall, Brock Osweiler's flounder, Paxton Lynch's fiasco, Case Keenum's failure and Chad Kelly's flameout in the three years since Manning retired.
No matter the motivation, Flacco appreciates Elway's endorsement .
''I definitely feel that way,'' Flacco said of being in his prime. ''So, it feels good to hear somebody say that. I mean, shoot, with Tom Brady now quarterbacks are playing until they're about 60 years old.''
Flacco, who's 7+ years younger than Brady, said he's healthy and hardy and can't wait to get going.
''I'm as healthy as I can be, as a physical and ready to go as ever,'' Flacco said. ''So, I'm excited about what lies ahead for me and my future. I'm not putting a number on how much I've got left to play. I'm going to play as long as I can and hopefully they're dragging me out of this building a long time from now.''
Flacco, whose last playoff appearance was a 35-31 loss at New England on Jan. 10, 2015, has three years and $63 million left on his contract with a 2019 salary of $18.5 million.
Flacco missed just six games in his first decade in the NFL and was Baltimore's starter last season until he injured his right hip in a loss at Pittsburgh on Nov. 4. Jackson took over and went 6-1 to get the Ravens into the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season.
''If I have to reflect back on that time in Baltimore, it was not very fun. It was miserable sitting there on the bench and not being able to contribute, not really feeling like you're a part of the team,'' Flacco said. ''But if that's what it takes to be in this situation right now and be as excited about it as I am and my family is, then that's what it takes.''
The Ravens went 106-72 with Flacco as a starter, including the postseason, where his 10 playoff victories since 2008 rank second behind Brady among active quarterbacks. Nobody has more road playoff wins than Flacco's seven.
''As we recall, there was one four or five years ago that was pretty painful here in Denver,'' Elway said of Baltimore's 38-35 win in double-overtime over the AFC's top seed on Jan. 12, 2013, ''and hopefully we'll have a lot more of those miracles on our side this time rather than against us.''
Flacco heaved a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones in the final minute of regulation when safety Rahim Moore mistimed his jump while going for the interception instead of the tackle. That play represents the Broncos' Bill Buckner moment and it propelled the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title a month later.
Flacco said he's still driven by his love for the game, not by his disappointing end in Baltimore.
''I'm really not trying to think too much about my past and why I'm here,'' he said. ''I'm really just trying to be excited for the fact that I am here and the offense that we're getting ready to run and the team we're getting ready to build.''
Notes: The Broncos re-signed TE Jeff Heuerman to a two-year deal worth about $9 million.
The Dallas Cowboys and running back Ezekiel Elliott seem to be on the same page as far as discussions on a long-term contract extension go. However, the Cowboys have made it clear that quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper are at the front of the line for extensions this offseason. Elliott is one of the true workhorse backs in the NFL and at 23 years old will get a handsome raise whenever he gets an extension. He barely missed 1,000 yards in 2017 when he was suspended and has gone well over 1,000 yards rushing in his other two seasons. Elliott has 4,048 yards rushing (4.7 average) with 28 rushing touchdowns in his three NFL seasons. He had a career-high 77 receptions for 567 yards and three more touchdowns in 2018 and is a surefire top-three fantasy selection in 2019 drafts.
Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) is making progress in his recovery from his ankle injury. I feel like Im in the 85 percent range, the Titans tight end said Tuesday. Today I felt fast getting out of my breaks, and I was catching the ball well. Always a good sign. It was the first time he practiced on the field since Week 1 of last year when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury. The veteran tight end was a full participant in individual drills but watched most of the team drills. Walker doesn't have a timetable for a return and said he's shed "a few pounds" but is officially listed at 248 pounds. Entering his age-35 season, he will be just two years removed from a five-season stretch in which he had at least 60 catches each season. A bounce-back season could be in the cards with better health, but Walker will be drafted as a risk/reward low-end TE1 this year.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Mose Frazier (arm) broke his left arm during practice on Tuesday, according to a league source. He is scheduled to undergo surgery by team doctor Pat Connor and his recovery is expected to last three to four months. Frazier's status for training camp is to be determined, but he obviously won't be ready for the regular season. The 25-year-old could be a cut candidate before the start of the season if he's not placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Garrett Celek (concussion) remains in the concussion protocol and will not be cleared until at least training camp. The backup to George Kittle had just five catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games for the Niners last season. He'll turn 31 next month and won't be fantasy relevant in 2019 unless Kittle goes down with an injury during the season.
San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert (forearm) needed to have another surgery to fix his broken forearm and will be out for another month. It adds injury to insult, as Mostert is behind Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Jeffery Wilson on the team's crowded backfield depth chart. It'll take several injuries ahead of him for Mostert to gain any real playing time in 2019. He received only 34 carries for 261 yards (7.7 average) and one touchdown in nine games for San Fran in 2018.
San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida (pectoral) has a slightly torn pectoral muscle but will not need surgery. He will miss organized team activities but should be ready for the start of training camp this summer. Breida seemingly played injured for most of the 2018 season but managed to run the ball 153 times for 814 yards (5.3 average) and three touchdowns in 14 games. It looks like he'll be ready for the start of the season, but an injury of this nature could hurt him as he attempts to distance himself in a crowded backfield that includes Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, Jeffery Wilson and Raheem Mostert.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed tight end Jordan Leggett off waivers from the Jets on Tuesday, according to a source. The third-year professional was a fifth-round pick out of Clemson in 2017 and spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve. Leggett made four starts in 15 games last season for Gang Green and had 14 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. In Tampa, he'll struggle for consistent playing time behind O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, so you can avoid Leggett in all fantasy formats.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said that running back Chris Carson (knee) "had a little work done" on his knee, but he should be back in a couple of weeks. Carson has had injury issues before, so this one is worth watching as we get further into the summer. The 24-year-old, a seventh-round pick in 2017, has yet to play a full season in his two years in the NFL and managed just four games in his rookie season. He had 247 carries for 1,151 yards (4.7 average) and nine touchdowns as he ran away with the job in Seattle in 2018. He'll have to keep it up this season to hold off Rashaad Penny, who is entering his second season and should have a larger role.
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said there's a chance that defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) is ready for Week 1, but they won't know for sure until training camp begins. Ansah has always had plenty of pass-rushing potential, but he was never able to capitalize on it in Detroit due to various injuries. The 29-year-old played in only seven games in 2018 and hasn't played in a full season since 2015. Ansah has reached double-digit sack totals twice in his career, but those in IDP leagues will want to see him prove his health first. Seattle is hoping he can fill in for the loss of Frank Clark, who was traded to Kansas City.
Buffalo Bills tight end Jason Croom was seen walking off the practice field with a trainer during organized team activities on Tuesday with an undisclosed injury. Running backs Frank Gore (ankle, foot) and T.J. Yeldon (groin) are also nursing injuries. Gore was limited while Yeldon sat out. With tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) out three to four months with a fractured foot, Buffalo's tight end room is already shrinking. Rookie Dawson Knox could be forced into significant playing time in his first season, although he won't be worth drafting in most fantasy leagues. Lee Smith could also see a big role early on in the year, depending on the severity and type of injury Croom is dealing with.
Denver Broncos wide receiver Daesean Hamilton (knee) said his knee bothered him at the end of last season. He spent much of the offseason training in Florida and focused on putting weight on and getting stronger and faster. Hamilton said his knee is feeling great now as training camp approaches. The 24-year-old fourth-round pick had 30 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games in his rookie season. He could make some noise in deeper leagues as the No. 3 wideout behind Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton this season.
Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is seeing "good progress" from running back D'Onta Foreman (Achilles) after his "significant" Achilles injury. Foreman's work away from the team has helped him have a "good spring." The 23-year-old was trying to make a comeback last year but was only able to play in one game and had seven rushing attempts for negative-one yard. A healthy Foreman in 2019 will put pressure on Lamar Miller in the backfield. He'd be a worthy handcuff for any owner who selects Miller and could wind up seeing more touches eventually.
Houston Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is away from the team during organized team activities. "I have no idea when he's going to be here. It's up to him," head coach Bill O'Brien said. Clowney is hoping for a long-term extension, but the two sides aren't close to an agreement and Clowney's extensive injury history complicates matters. The 26-year-old has played in just one full season in his five years in the NFL. He had 47 tackles, nine sacks, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries in 15 games last season. Clowney is a risk/reward IDP pick because of his penchant for missing time with injuries. He's managed to miss only one game the last two years and has recorded 18.5 sacks in that time.
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (knee) didn't take part in organized team activities on Tuesday but got some work in off the jugs machine after practice. The 23-year-old tore his MCL last year and caught just 20 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games before his injury in 2018. As long as veteran Delanie Walker, who is also returning from an injury, stays healthy, Smith's fantasy upside will be limited in Tennessee's run-first offense.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones didn't report for the start of organized team activities this week, according to a source. Jones is in the final year of his deal and is looking for a big long-term extension after posting an incredible 15.5 sacks in his third season in the NFL. The 24-year-old also had 6.5 sacks in 2017 and has emerged as one of the best interior defensive line pass rushers in the league. He will be paid handsomely eventually.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (hip) said he continues to rehab and is on schedule to be ready to practice when training camp starts in two months. Brate is not practicing at organized team activities this week after playing through a hip injury for much of last year. There should be a role for Brate alongside O.J. Howard in Bruce Arians' offense, but Brate's ceiling might be capped as a touchdown-dependent TE2 unless Howard misses time with an injury. The 27-year-old caught 30 passes for 289 yards and six touchdowns last year and has at least six scores in each of the last three seasons.
The New York Jets signed free-agent wide receiver Deonte Thompson to an undisclosed deal on Tuesday, according to agent David Canter. Thompson had 17 catches for 161 yards and no touchdowns in 13 combined games with the Bills and Cowboys in the 2018 season. He'll merely be receiver depth for Gang Green if he even makes the final roster out of training camp.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (Achilles) is taking part in organized team activities this week and looks good. Grant had surgery in the offseason but will be fine for training camp and the regular season. The 26-year-old has 34 receptions for 471 yards and four touchdowns in 42 games over his three seasons with the Dolphins. He'll be a long shot for fantasy relevance behind Devante Parker, Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson in 2019.
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) suffered a broken foot on the first day of organized team activities on Monday and will need surgery. Kroft is expected to miss three to four months, so he won't be ready for the start of the season and can be ignored in fantasy leagues. Behind Kroft, Buffalo has rookie Dawson Knox, Lee Smith and Jason Croom on their depth chart. None of those three will be fantasy relevant with Kroft on the shelf.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins (hernia) is "continuing his rehab," according to head coach Doug Pederson. The 25-year-old had sports hernia surgery last September and is behind Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor on the depth chart, so he's a long shot to produce meaningful numbers in 2019. He missed all of 2018 and had only 16 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown over a full season in his rookie year in 2017.