In the light season-ending injury to the starting quarterback Deshaun WatsonThe Browns decided to add veteran starting experience to their roster in the form of the former Super Bowl MVP pass Joe Flaco. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, while Flacco heads to Cleveland as part of a training contract, he expected to get a promotion to the active squad.
The Browns know Flacco well. In a 16-year career that included playing for the Ravens, Broncos and Jets, Flacco has 18 wins and just three losses with the Browns. In the perennial debate over whether Flacco was ever an elite quarterback raging through 21 games, the Browns may have seen the most elite game of the 38-year-old’s career.
The Browns’ latest deal has threefold significance. First, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, Flacco is coming to Cleveland to serve as a backup to a rookie fifth-round pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who picked up his first career win over the Steelers in his second start this season. Second, the grizzled veteran will be asked to mentor Thompson-Robinson based on his countless experiences with three different teams and several other offensive coordinators.
The third goal Flacco serves may be the worst-of-the-best-case scenario. In a season where the Browns are looking to earn their first playoff berth since 2020 and second since 2002, Flacco boasts one of the more legendary playoff records in NFL history. Despite all his playoff experience in Baltimore dating back to 2014 and earlier, Flacco is 10-5 in the postseason with a 25-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a Super Bowl ring. Granted, this potential benefit will only be realized in a worst-case, best-case scenario where the team is still able to make the playoffs, but Thompson-Robinson either gets injured or is ineffective.
Flacco wasn’t the only veteran quarterback interested in the job, though, as was another former Raven Robert Griffin III recently lobbied for a trial. While Griffin has experience in Cleveland, he has not played in the NFL since the 2020 season. While Flacco hasn’t been a regular starter since his first season in Denver in 2019, Flacco has not only appeared in the game every year since then, but also he started every match.
Expecting Flacco to support Thompson-Robinson opens up the question of whether the Browns have seen the end PJ Walker’s experiment. In three exciting games this year, Walker led the team to two wins and a loss, but his play was inconsistent, recording just one touchdown, five interceptions and two fumbles.
Regardless, the Browns will have three options at quarterback. Thompson-Robinson will receive the first penalties in the early stages of the game, while Flacco and Walker will support the team from the benches. With one of the best defenses in the league, that could be enough to propel Cleveland to the postseason. Or maybe even more.