Browns Open To Re-Signing Joe Flacco

The Browns placing an aging quarterback behind an injury-riddled offensive line certainly injects risk into their equation, but the defense-powered team has won two of its three games with Joe Flacco at the helm. A string of developments have commenced during this span.

After playing his first two Browns games as a practice squad elevation, Flacco signed an incentive-laden deal to join the team’s 53-man roster. He rebuffed offers to sign with other teams while on Cleveland’s P-squad and, despite not landing a 2023 gig until November, is interested in playing a 17th NFL season in 2024. The Browns may give the former Ravens mainstay that opportunity.

The team obviously remains tied to Deshaun Watson as its starter, but’s Armando Salguero notes it has held internal discussions on a deal that would keep Flacco in Cleveland for the ’24 season. Flacco, who will turn 39 next month, has signed multiple contracts to be a backup during the 2020s. Although Watson’s fully guaranteed deal all but guarantees he will be Cleveland’s Week 1 starter next year, it would seem likely Flacco would be amenable — given his comments about his current situation so far — to coming back as a backup.

While Flacco has not been flawless since coming back, he has delivered surprising work to keep the Browns in place as the AFC’s top wild-card team. The 9-5 squad has benefited tremendously from the recent Jets backup, who at points resided as Gang Green’s third-stringer last season. Flacco has thrown seven touchdown passes and accumulated 939 passing yards (7.1 per attempt) with the Browns. He has only completed 57.9% of his passes, throwing five interceptions. But he showed a clear improvement on what the Browns possessed beyond Watson this season, upgrading on P.J. Walker and Dorian Thompson-Robinson — to the point Kevin Stefanski named the veteran his rest-of-season starter after his second start.

Thompson-Robinson’s rookie contract runs through 2026, but a Flacco re-signing would effectively move the fifth-round rookie to the developmental track. Thompson-Robinson has struggled this season, despite being given the QB2 role following the Browns’ Josh Dobbs trade in August. Watson’s troublesome throwing shoulder may well prompt Cleveland to be better prepared in terms of depth next season.

Another Watson restructure may well happen, as the team’s 2023 reworking has the starter’s 2024 cap number set to skyrocket to a record-shattering $63.97MM number. Despite early success, Flacco would be unlikely to command more than midlevel backup money in 2024. He would seemingly still fit in the Browns’ plans if attached to a full-season contract. A number of younger QB2 options will be available in March, but the early returns of Flacco’s fit in Stefanski’s offense have already led to the team considering a multiyear partnership.

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