The Browns are in emergency mode with their quarterback room, and they’re in the process of developing another emergency plan.
Veteran Joe Flacco will work out for the Browns on Friday, a team source said. Cleveland lost starting quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season this week because of a shoulder injury.
The Browns will add a third quarterback, probably to the practice squad, before they begin practice next week. For now, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the starter and P.J. Walker is the backup. Walker began the season on the practice squad and started the last two games that Watson missed, but the Browns are giving Thompson-Robinson a second start Sunday versus the Steelers.
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Given the lack of experienced options for the Browns in the wake of Watson’s injury, Flacco, 38, makes some sense as a potential option.
Flacco made four starts for the New York Jets last year — and beat the Browns in a wild comeback inside the last two minutes early last season. Flacco has nine wins as a starter inside Cleveland Browns Stadium, eight from his 11 seasons as the Baltimore Ravens’ starter. 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 was injured but the team decided to stick with Zach Wilson and Tim Boyle, eventually adding Trevor Siemian to the practice squad.
This is the 10th time since the Browns returned to the league in 1999 that they’ve had to use at least three starting quarterbacks in a season. At 6-3, the Browns head to the weekend trailing Baltimore (8-3) in the AFC North but in the thick of the AFC playoff race, and they’ll be looking to ride their defense to their first playoff appearance since 2020. Watson, who started six games, will have surgery next week to repair a broken bone in his throwing shoulder.
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It’s most notable that Flacco is the only quarterback working out for the Browns. That speaks to the lack of real options at this post-trade deadline stage, and it also probably means Flacco is the most likely quarterback to be on the Browns’ practice squad by Monday. If the Browns were to sign a passer from another team’s practice squad, they’d have to guarantee that player three weeks on the active roster. And right now, the team’s focus is on Thompson-Robinson playing well and keeping the starting job.
The Browns drafted Thompson-Robinson in the fifth round last April in hopes that he could become Watson’s long-term backup. Now, the team is hopeful that Thompson-Robinson can just be competent and efficient — and that there’s no reason over the remaining eight games for the Browns to go to Flacco or another option.
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(Photo: Nick Cammett / Getty Images)