Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco Not Competing With Nick Mullens For Eagles’ Backup Job

The 49ers turned to Nick Mullens as Jimmy Garoppolo‘s primary backup over the past three seasons but did not tender him as a restricted free agent. The three-year veteran suffered an elbow injury late last season and has spent much of this year recovering from offseason surgery.

Mullens landed a gig with the Eagles last month, joining the team after the Jets expressed interest. The former UDFA out of Southern Miss has made 16 career starts, but the Eagles are not planning a first- or second-string role for their recent addition.

The team will not hold a Mullens-Joe Flacco backup competition, with Bo Wulf of The Athletic noting the QB2 job will be Flacco’s (subscription required). This is assuming the Eagles go with Jalen Hurts, and not Flacco, as their starter. While this is the expectation, new HC Nick Sirianni has not anointed Hurts as such yet.

Flacco joined the Eagles — his fourth team in four years — on a one-year deal worth $3.5MM in March. The 36-year-old passer’s contract comes fully guaranteed. Philly gave Mullens a one-year, $920K deal that includes $200K guaranteed. Mullens arrived after the Eagles waived rookie UDFA Jamie Newman during their offseason program. The Eagles are not certain to carry three QBs this season, Wulf adds, injecting some uncertainty regarding Mullens’ roster spot.

Last season, Flacco completed a career-low 55% of his passes during a five-game Jets run (four starts). Granted, the veteran was helming one of the league’s worst offenses. The former Super Bowl MVP did stay healthy in 2020, after a neck injury ended his 2019 Broncos tenure and a 2018 hip injury ushered in the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson era. Despite the Eagles bringing in a rather experienced third-string QB, Flacco is on track to work unchallenged as the team’s backup.

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Eagles Planning Quarterback Competition?

New Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni says that he will not automatically anoint Jalen Hurts as the team’s starting quarterback. Instead, as James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets, Sirianni plans to hold an open competition for the starting job.

At present, the only other QB on the roster is veteran Joe Flacco, whom Philadelphia signed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal last month. Flacco has enjoyed plenty of success in his lengthy career, highlighted by a Super Bowl MVP award, but he has dealt with injuries in recent seasons and has not been a full-time starter since the first half of the 2018 campaign. Hurts, meanwhile, is entering his second season in the league, and while there are still questions about his long-term viability, his brief audition in 2020 had its share of promising moments.

Barring a complete disaster, Sirianni’s job won’t be on the line in 2021, so he shouldn’t feel any pressure to lean on the more experienced hand over a high-upside talent like Hurts. And considering owner Jeffrey Lurie‘s recent comments that he wants his club to build around the second-year pro, it would be very surprising to see anyone other than Hurts under center on Week 1. Perhaps the rookie HC is simply honing his coach-speak skills.

Of course, Sirianni’s alleged plans for a QB competition immediately spurred speculation that the team could take a quarterback with its first-round choice in next week’s draft. But if the Eagles were going to do that, they probably wouldn’t have traded down from the No. 6 overall pick to No. 12. By the time they are on the clock with the No. 12 selection, all five top QB prospects could be gone.

A recent report suggested that Philadelphia could be eyeing a move back into the top-10, but that same report indicated that the team is also interested in another trade down. Further, if the Eagles were to move back up the board, it might not be for a QB at all, but for a cornerback or wide receiver.

At this point, unless Hurts should suffer an injury or spectacularly underperform during training camp, he still looks like the odds-on favorite to be the Eagles’ starting QB, Sirianni’s “open competition” remarks notwithstanding.

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Eagles, Joe Flacco Agree To Terms

Joe Flacco will join his fourth NFL team. The 13-year veteran quarterback agreed to a deal with the Eagles, according to his agency (Twitter link).

Flacco will sign a one-year, $3.5MM deal, with Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan reporting the veteran quarterback can make up to $7.5MM through incentives (Twitter links). That $3.5MM is fully guaranteed.

The former Ravens, Broncos and Jets passer visited the 49ers and Eagles. But the New Jersey native will opt to return closer to home. This will seemingly install Flacco as Jalen Hurts‘ backup.

This agreement figures to affect the draft as well. Following the Eagles’ decision to trade Carson Wentz to the Colts, rumors emerged that the team wanted to bring in competition for Hurts. That would have made a quarterback pick viable at No. 6 overall. However, a subsequent report surfaced indicating owner Jeffrey Lurie preferred the team roll with Hurts as its starter and attempt to see if he can be a long-term solution. This may well have led to the Eagles looking at backup options. At this stage of his career, Flacco certainly profiles as such.

Flacco saw his run as a starter end when the Ravens did not give him his job back after a 2018 hip injury. Lamar Jackson took over, leading the Ravens to trade Flacco the following offseason. Flacco’s Broncos run ended after a second straight midseason injury, this time a neck malady, and the team released him in 2020. The Jets, however, pounced and installed Flacco as Sam Darnold‘s backup. A Darnold injury thrust Flacco back into action; he started four games last season.

Were Flacco to beat out Hurts for Philadelphia’s QB1 gig, it would appear the team’s initial post-Wentz plan has veered off course. But this agreement does provide the team with a proven arm. The former Super Bowl MVP has started 175 of the 176 games he’s played. The 2021 season will be Flacco’s age-36 campaign.

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Eagles To Meet With Joe Flacco

The Eagles are bringing in Joe Flacco for a visit (Twitter link via PFT). This marks the second known meeting for Flacco this year, following a get-together with the 49ers.

Flacco profiles as a potential backup for Jalen Hurts, though Nate Sudfeld remains unsigned in free agency. Flacco, 36, obviously comes with credentials, but he’s bounced around since parting ways with the Ravens a few years ago. His Broncos tenure was cut short by a neck injury and later found his way to the Jets, where he wound up making four starts in Sam Darnold‘s stead. Flacco threw for six touchdowns against three interceptions, but he averaged just 6.4 yards per throw with a 55% completion rate.

Still, the Eagles see Flacco as a steady hand who can backstop and mentor Hurts as they enter the post-Carson Wentz era. He wouldn’t hurt the cap, either — the South Jersey could likely be had on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum.

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49ers To Host Joe Flacco On Visit

John Lynch said earlier this offseason he wanted to look at potential veteran backups. The 49ers will do so soon. They are planning to bring in Joe Flacco for a visit, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Flacco has bounced around since his 11-year Ravens run wrapped after the 2018 season, going to Denver and New York. The former first-round pick worked with 49ers assistant Rich Scangarello during his brief stay as the Broncos’ starter.

This week has produced a flurry of quarterback movement. Several potential options as a Jimmy Garoppolo backup — from Andy Dalton to Mitchell Trubisky to Jacoby Brissett to Ryan Fitzpatrick — have committed elsewhere, leaving the 49ers with a shallower pool of QB2 candidates. Flacco has extensive experience, having started for more than 10 seasons and having won a Super Bowl MVP honor midway through his Baltimore tenure. But his recent play has not exactly made him a flashy addition.

Following a neck injury that ended his Denver stay, Flacco landed with the Jets. Sam Darnold‘s latest injury moved Flacco back into a starting role. He started four games for the Jets last season, throwing six touchdown passes and three interceptions for a team that started 0-13. On a woeful Jets team, Flacco averaged just 6.4 yards per attempt and completed 55% of his passes.

The 49ers have Garoppolo under contract through 2022. Despite his injury issues and high cap numbers, Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have thrown support behind the ex-Patriot backup. The Patriots have been linked to a potential Garoppolo reacquisition, but the 49ers are believed to be OK with keeping their incumbent starter — unless they can land a major upgrade. Deshaun Watson is believed to have the 49ers atop his destination list, but it is unclear how serious the 49ers would be about pushing to acquire the disgruntled Texans QB.

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AFC East Notes: Gilmore, Pats, Tua, Jets

Although the Patriots shopped Stephon Gilmore this spring, they hung onto him at the trade deadline after setting a high price for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. When asked if the Patriots entertained offers for Gilmore, Bill Belichick said he was not aware of that occurring. The Pats gave Gilmore a $5MM pay bump this year but will face a decision on the standout cornerback in 2021. That will be the final season of Gilmore’s five-year, $65MM deal. With Jalen Ramsey and Marlon Humphrey each securing extensions worth north of $19MM per year, thus blowing the lid off a long-stagnant corner market, Gilmore will understandably want to cash in while still in his prime. His potential new contract affected his trade market, Tom Curran of NBC Sports notes. Gilmore will turn 31 just after the start of next season.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins‘ trove of draft picks in 2021 appears to have affected their decision to move Tua Tagovailoa into their starting lineup now, creating an audition of sorts ahead of what looks like a strong quarterback draft. However, owner Stephen Ross was not behind the decision to insert Tagovailoa into the starting lineup, per the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero. With Ross a major supporter of the quarterback the Dolphins were eyeing for more than a year before this year’s draft, it would certainly be interesting if the team continues to be linked to a potential first-round QB pick ahead of the 2021 draft.
  • With their 0-8 record at the bottom of the league, the Jets will continue to be linked to 2021 QB prospects — namely Trevor Lawrence. Their 2018 first-round draftee’s status will move the Jets closer to the Clemson quarterback. Sam Darnold is now unlikely to play against the Patriots, after suffering a shoulder setback against the Chiefs. Adam Gase said Friday that Darnold told him he was not throwing as well as he hoped, and the Jets on Saturday downgraded their starter to doubtful for Monday’s game. Joe Flacco is in line to receive a third start as a Jet.
  • More trouble for the AFC’s New York franchise. Jets players and their agents alerted the NFLPA recently about cameras existing in the team’s locker room, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Specifically, the NFLPA contacted the NFL about surveillance equipment being hidden in smoke detectors in the Jets locker room, Mehta adds. The league indicated cameras have existed in and around the team’s locker room since 2008 and that the players were aware of them. Per several anonymous current and former players, via Mehta, that does not appear to be the case. No consent form permitting cameras is believed to have been signed, and Mehta adds the NFLPA is “troubled” by the Jets unilaterally placing cameras in the locker room.

Jets Notes: Bell, Gase, Darnold, Anderson

Here is the latest from the Jets, beginning with some fallout from their disappointing Le’Veon Bell contract:

  • Adam Gase took issue with Bell’s social media habits and was said to have expressed dissatisfaction with the running back last season. That was a two-way street, to a degree. Bell expressed disappointment in Gase’s game plans in 2019, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Bell discussed the prospect of requesting a trade this offseason, should his Jets situation fail to improve, but decided instead to stay the course, Mehta adds. This, however, ended up being a moot subject — largely because of Bell’s disastrous contract. The Jets, who previously shopped Bell’s lucrative deal, released him Tuesday.
  • The Jets will be without Sam Darnold again this week against the Dolphins. The team will hold its starting quarterback out of its Week 6 contest, giving offseason addition Joe Flacco another start. Flacco averaged just 5.9 yards per attempt in a 195-yard day against the Cardinals.
  • By Sunday, Darnold will have missed seven career starts in his three-season NFL tenure. Durability may be a concern, even though Darnold’s absences have been related to two separate injuries and mononucleosis. The former No. 3 overall pick’s coverage recognition, however, has been a discussion point this season, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. The Jets will need to decide on Darnold’s fifth-year option by May, but they may be in position to draft Clemson prodigy Trevor Lawrence. More intel on Darnold will be necessary by season’s end, even if the team does not land the No. 1 overall pick.
  • Robby Anderson‘s Panthers pact has thus far worked out well for Carolina. On a three-game win streak, the Panthers have seen the former Jets deep threat thrive in an all-around role. Anderson has eclipsed 99 receiving yards in four of Carolina’s five games and leads the team — by more than 100 yards — with 489. Anderson did not produce a 1,000-yard season with the Jets and intimated he prefers his Panthers role. “I love being in this system because for so long it was, ‘Oh, he’s only a deep threat,'” Anderson said during an interview with Josina Anderson (via Cimini). “It used to eat me up because I’m like, ‘I know what I can do.’ I love that I’m in this offense, where I really get to catch and run and play football.” Anderson signed a two-year, $20MM deal ($12MM guaranteed) with Carolina.

Jets To Sit Sam Darnold In Week 5

WEDNESDAY: The Jets have confirmed Flacco will take the reins as their Week 5 starter, giving Darnold more time to return to full strength. Adam Gase tabbed Darnold as “week to week.”

TUESDAY: Although Sam Darnold returned to last week’s Jets-Broncos game after absorbing a violent sack, he may be forced to miss time for a third straight season.

The Jets are expected to hold their starting quarterback out against the Cardinals, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets. Some in the organization view it as best to be cautious with Darnold’s AC joint sprain, even though the third-year passer finished last week’s game.

Despite only being cleared to play recently, Joe Flacco would be called upon to start against Arizona in this case. Flacco replaced Darnold after Alexander Johnson slammed the Jets starter to the turf Thursday, but Darnold re-entered the game soon after. Flacco spent the past several months rehabbing from neck surgery.

Darnold has been spotty this season, ranking 27th in Total QBR, though the Jets have been without much of his already shaky skill-position group to start the campaign. Should the USC alum be held out of Sunday’s game, it would be his seventh missed start as a pro. The 2018 No. 3 overall pick missed three games as a rookie because of a foot sprain and was out due to mononucleosis early last season. Darnold played through an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder in high school, per Mehta, but damage to his throwing shoulder is obviously a bit different.

With the Jets’ 0-4 start having placed them as a candidate to land the 2021 No. 1 pick — widely expected to be Clemson prospect Trevor Lawrence — Darnold’s season may take on greater importance. But it might well be paused for a bit.

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Jets’ Joe Flacco Cleared For Full Practice

Joe Flacco‘s hopes of a Week 3 return turned out to be realistic. The veteran quarterback received medical clearance to participate fully in the Jets’ Wednesday practice, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).

While next to nothing has gone right for the 0-2 team this season — one riddled with injuries on offense — the Jets’ one-year Flacco contract looks set to give Sam Darnold a veteran backup for 14 games (health-permitting, at least). Flacco has not played since Week 8 of last season. He underwent neck surgery this offseason but received an opportunity to join former Ravens exec Joe Douglas with the Jets.

This will be the first season Flacco enters as a backup. A starter with the Ravens for 10 1/2 seasons and with the Broncos for the first half of the 2019 campaign, the former Super Bowl MVP has started all 171 games in which he has appeared. A hip injury ended Flacco’s Ravens QB1 run and began Lamar Jackson‘s ascent, and Flacco has searched for a fit since.

The Jets acquired Flacco after drafting James Morgan in the fourth round. It will be the 35-year-old veteran set to take snaps in the event of a Darnold absence this year. Darnold has missed time in each of his two NFL seasons. A foot injury cost him three games in 2018, and a mononucleosis bout sidelined him for three contests last season.

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Jets Notes: Gase, Bell, Ngakoue

Earlier this week, there was yet another tense moment between Jets head coach Adam Gase and running back Le’Veon Bell. As Rich Cimini of ESPN.com details, Gase pulled Bell after two series during Wednesday’s scrimmage because of hamstring tightness. That prompted Bell to take to Twitter to say that there was nothing wrong with his hamstrings and that “it’s tough to stay loose when you do a bunch of standing around.”

Gase said that he spoke with Bell for a long time after the Twitter posts and that the two sides are on the same page. But as Cimini writes in a separate piece, the latest episode might not be the last one. Bell has reportedly had an unimpressive camp, and Gase has previously indicated he wants to reduce Bell’s workload in 2020. So Bell, who needs a productive season in order to avoid being cut — or to land a lucrative contract with another club — is unlikely to appreciate his fellow backs siphoning off his carries. It remains a situation ripe for future turmoil.

Now for more from Gang Green:

  • Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News has previously reported that GM Joe Douglas is under cash-flow restrictions imposed by Jets ownership, and he reiterated that report today. He says ownership gave Douglas a “hard time” after last year’s one-year, $8.4MM contract for Ryan Kalil didn’t pan out, and he also suggests that the club’s tight-fistedness prevented the team from pursuing Yannick Ngakoue, who was just traded to the Vikings (Twitter links).
  • On the other hand, the restraint that Douglas showed in free agency this offseason was generally lauded in light of the team’s recent history with splashy signings, so it’s difficult to say whether that restraint was due to a mandate from ownership or just a deliberately measured approach. And as Brian Costello of the New York Post tweets, the Jets were not hugely interested in Ngakoue to begin with given his struggles against the run and the fact that the deadline for an extension passed on July 15.
  • Backup QB Joe Flacco is eyeing a Week 3 return, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Jets signed the former Super Bowl MVP to back up Sam Darnold, and Flacco has been working his way back from neck surgery.