According to multiple reports, the Broncos are set to acquire guard/center Gino Gradkowski (6-3, 300) from the Ravens via trade, pending a physical. The fourth-year player figures to compete for Denver's starting center job; he turned 26 in November.
The Ravens have announced that the trade will include a swap of 2016 draft choices. According to Ed Werder, Denver will send their fourth-rounder and receive Baltimore's fifth-rounder. At first blush, this seems a slightly steep price.
Gradkowski, who has played in 40 career games and started 16 (all of them in 2013), is due to draw a $1.542M salary in the final year of his rookie deal. As Baltimore's starting center in 2013, the Delaware alum graded out at minus-15.6 over 1,181 snaps; PFF charged him with three sacks, seven hits, and 26 hurries.
That 2013 grade splits up as such: minus-15.7 in pass protection, minus-0.5 in screen blocking, a flat 0.0 in run blocking, and plus-0.6 for penalty avoidance. He graded out clearly in the red for eight games, and in the green for three.
In 2014, the Pennsylvania native was active for eight games but played just 10 offensive snaps in all. Of course, Baltimore's offense was coordinated by Gary Kubiak last year, so the coach's familiarity with the player is surely the basis for the move. As a fourth-round rookie in 2012, Gradkowski saw 89 snaps in 16 games.
Denver has a clear need at center. 2014 starter Will Montgomery remains a free agent, while 2014 sixth-rounder Matt Paradis spent his rookie season on the practice squad. Kubiak had mentioned the possibility of Paradis or Shelley Smith playing center, along with several veteran free agents, including Montgomery. Manny Ramirez, the 2013 starter, shifted to right guard at midseason last year and remains on the roster, but is a possible cap casualty.