Joe Flacco spent the first three months of the 2023 NFL season at home. Weeks after joining the Browns' practice squad, the 38-year-old former Super Bowl MVP suddenly looks like Cleveland's most competent quarterback of the year. But before he signed up to be the Browns' emergency signal-caller, Flacco unsuccessfully sought a reunion with the QB-starved Jets.
In early September, Flacco told ESPN he could "still play" and hoped to find an opportunity after spending all offseason unsigned. Days later, ESPN reported that Flacco was specifically interested in a return to the Jets, who had just lost prized trade acquisition Aaron Rodgers to a Week 1 Achilles tear. New York had previously employed Flacco on two separate occasions, first in 2020 and again a year later, but coach Robert Saleh opted instead to entrench maligned backup Zach Wilson as the new starter.
Flacco, meanwhile, remained a free agent until late November, when the Browns quickly summoned him for a workout and added him to their practice squad, desperate for help with Deshaun Watson and rookie backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson both injured. Having shrugged off a Flacco reunion, the Jets went 3-6 with Wilson as the starter, finally benching the former first-round pick in Week 11. They proceeded to go 0-2 with replacement Tim Boyle, then cut Boyle and re-elevated Wilson, who had been moved to No. 3 duties.
Flacco, who was born and raised in the New Jersey area, went just 1-8 as a starter during his previous two stints with the Jets, filling in for both Wilson and Sam Darnold, another first-round castoff. But he did throw 14 touchdowns to six interceptions during that span, and he's already proven more capable of pushing the ball downfield for the Browns in 2023. In two starts, the longtime Ravens starter is responsible for two of Cleveland's four games in which the QB throws multiple TDs.