Joe Flacco is headed to the Broncos in a trade that can become official March 13. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

It became clear that Joe Flacco would soon depart the Baltimore Ravens when Coach John Harbaugh decided last season to make rookie Lamar Jackson the team’s starter at quarterback ahead of Flacco.

Now there is a destination attached to that inevitability: Flacco is headed to Denver. The Ravens have reached a tentative trade agreement with the Broncos that will make the former Super Bowl MVP the latest attempt by front office executive John Elway to solve Denver’s quarterback quandary.

The trade was not announced and cannot become official, under NFL rules, for another month. But it was confirmed by a person familiar with the deliberations after being first reported by ESPN.

According to that person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because there was no immediate confirmation of the deal by either team, the Ravens are to receive from the Broncos a mid-round pick in the NFL draft. It is believed the pick will be one of the two fourth-round choices currently possessed by the Broncos.

The Ravens had said they would consider trade offers for Flacco this offseason. Harbaugh offered what amounted to a public farewell to Flacco following the Ravens’ loss at home to the Los Angeles Chargers in the opening round of the AFC playoffs.

“Joe’s going to have a market,” Harbaugh said then. “There are going to be a lot of teams that are going to want Joe because they understand that. And I’ll be in Joe’s corner wherever he’s at, unless we play them.”

The Ravens traded up to select Jackson with the final pick of the first round of last year’s draft, signaling the beginning of the end of Flacco’s tenure in Baltimore. Jackson became the starter when Flacco was sidelined by a hip injury, and played well enough to keep the job after Flacco’s hip healed. The Ravens modified their approach to utilize Jackson’s running skills and won the AFC North title.

Flacco, 34, started nine games for the Ravens in 2018, throwing for 2,465 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions. He spent 11 seasons with the Ravens and was the MVP of their Super Bowl triumph over the San Francisco 49ers to conclude the 2012 season.

He has three years and $63 million remaining on his contract. He is set to be paid $18.5 million next season, $20.25 million in 2020 and $24.25 million in 2021.

The Broncos signed Case Keenum as a free agent last offseason but apparently are prepared to move on from him as the starter and hand the job to Flacco. It’s not clear if Keenum, who’s entering the second season of a two-year, $36 million contract, will be kept on the roster as Flacco’s backup. He probably would have to accept a reworked contract to stay, or he could be released or traded to another quarterback-needy team.

Elway, the Hall of Fame former quarterback for the Broncos, continues to seek a solution to the team’s quarterback dilemma. He signed Peyton Manning as a free agent in 2012 and that worked well, with Manning winning a league MVP award and a Super Bowl title in his NFL second act in Denver.

But Elway’s more recent attempts to find a franchise quarterback for the Broncos have not been as successful. He drafted Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, who have all moved on to other teams. He signed Keenum. None was the answer. At last year’s NFL Scouting Combine, Elway was asked whether he was frustrated with his quarterback-related swings and misses.

“Believe me, I’m not done swinging and missing,” he said then. “So, look, misses don’t bother me. We’ve just got to figure out a way to get it right. That’s what we’re working on.”

Vic Fangio, the new head coach of the Broncos, was the linebackers coach for the Ravens in Flacco’s first two NFL seasons.

NFL trades can become official when the new league year begins March 13. The free agent market opens the same day.

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