The Browns are in emergency mode with their quarterback room and they are developing another contingency plan.
Veteran Joe Flacco will practice for the Browns Friday, a team source said. Cleveland lost starting quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season this week with a shoulder injury.
The Browns will add a third quarterback, likely to the practice squad, before starting practice next week. For now, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the starter and PJ Walker is the backup. Walker started the season on the practice squad and started the last two games Watson missed, but the Browns give Thompson-Robinson a second start Sunday against the Steelers.
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Given the lack of experienced options for the Browns following Watson’s injury, Flacco, 38, makes sense as a potential option.
Flacco made four starts for the New York Jets last year — and beat the Browns on a wild comeback in the final two minutes early last season. Flacco has nine wins as a starter at Cleveland Browns Stadium, eight in his 11 seasons as a starter for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens drafted Flacco in the first round in 2008, and Flacco spent one season with the Denver Broncos and three with the Jets after leaving the Ravens in 2019.
Flacco expressed interest in re-signing with the Jets after Aaron Rodgers’ injury, but the team decided to stick with Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle, ultimately adding Trevor Siemian to the practice squad.
This is the 10th time since the Browns returned to the league in 1999 that they have had to use at least three starting quarterbacks in a season. At 6-3, the Browns head into the weekend behind Baltimore (8-3) in the AFC North but deep in the AFC playoff race, and they’ll look to lead their defense to their first playoff appearance since 2020. Watson, who has started six games, will have surgery next week to repair a broken pitching shoulder.
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It is worth noting that Flacco is the only quarterback to work for the Browns. That speaks to the lack of real options at this point in the post-trade deadline, and it probably also means that Flacco is the quarterback most likely to be on the Browns’ practice squad by Monday. If the Browns were to sign a passer from another team’s practice squad, they would have to guarantee that player three weeks on the active roster. And for now, the team is focused on Thompson-Robinson playing well and retaining the starting job.
The Browns drafted Thompson-Robinson in the fifth round in April with hopes he could become Watson’s long-term replacement. Now the team is hoping that Thompson-Robinson can just be competent and effective — and that there’s no reason for the remaining eight games for the Browns to go to Flacco or another option.
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(Photo: Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
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