© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It's been almost three years since Joe Flacco was a starting quarterback in the NFL. And Jets coach Robert Saleh thinks that's a major mistake. Complimenting Flacco's on- and off-field leadership as the backup to 2021 first-round pick Zach Wilson, Saleh told reporters Wednesday that he believes Flacco could -- and should -- still be a starter at 37.

"He should be, in my opinion," Saleh said of Flacco as a QB1. "He could start in this league, I believe that. Sometimes this league has a tendency to pigeonhole people, or put labels on people, and then their opportunities kind of get limited. But Joe Flacco is a starting quarterback in this league. He's really, really talented."

Saleh's remarks came in response to questions about Flacco's physical ability, after the coach praised the veteran's mentorship: "His presence, his demeanor, the way he goes about his business, he is fantastic. He is an open book (for Wilson and the other QBs) ... He is phenomenal, he really is."

Flacco is entering his third season with the Jets, and second as Wilson's top backup. He was originally signed in 2020 as the No. 2 behind former first-rounder Sam Darnold, and started four games that season as an injury replacement. He joined the Eagles the following year, to serve as Jalen Hurts' backup, only to be traded back to the Jets last October, when Wilson suffered an injury.

Prior to joining the Jets, Flacco also spent one season with the Broncos, starting eight games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending neck injury. He is best known for his 11-year run as the Ravens' QB, when he threw a career-high 27 touchdowns (2014) and, most notably in 2012, led Baltimore to a Super Bowl XLVII victory over the 49ers, winning Super Bowl MVP.