The tentative deal that will send quarterback Joe Flacco from Baltimore to Denver is hardly the first trade that was negotiated to agreement before the agreement could be officially executed. Like every one of those trades, however, the deal isn’t done until it’s done.
Which means that either the Ravens or the Broncos can back out of the deal, with no consequence — other than impairing relationships and/or undermining the ability of the team that reneges to do similar deals in the future.
At the risk of angering Ravens fans and setting myself up for claims that I’ve conjured a jinx, what if Lamar Jackson suffers a freak injury between now and March 13? Would the Ravens at that point say, “Sorry, Broncos, we need him now”?
They could. And the Broncos would be upset. As upset as the Ravens were in 2011, when a draft-day trade with the Bears fell through because the Bears didn’t communicate the trade to the league office. The Bears said it was an accident; Ravens coach John Harbaugh believed otherwise, claiming that they did it on purpose.
Then there’s the failed Browns-Bengals trade involving A.J. McCarron. The Browns supposedly failed to timely communicate the trade by accident; some believe that former Browns executive Sashi Brown intentionally slow played the procedures because he didn’t want McCarron.
If the Flacco deal craters, the team on the wrong end of the cratering will have to deal with it. Although that team can indeed huff and puff, the NFL won’t be blowing anyone’s house down because the NFL never regards a trade as final until: (1) the window for doing deals is open; and (2) both sides inform the league that a deal has occurred.