Joe Flacco Breaks Silence on Browns Opting for Jameis Winston as Backup QB

A reunion with the Browns is Joe Flacco's first choice for free agency.

Getty Images A reunion with the Browns is Joe Flacco's first choice for free agency.

The Cleveland Browns‘ swift pivot away from Joe Flacco and toward Jameis Winston raised eyebrows across the NFL landscape, including Flacco’s himself.

Flacco ended up with the Indianapolis Colts, where he will serve as the backup QB to second-year starter Anthony Richardson. The team held Flacco’s introductory press conference in Indy on Friday, March 22, during which a reporter asked the QB if he was surprised he didn’t return to Cleveland after leading the team to the playoffs last season.

“Probably a little bit,” Flacco responded, per Joel Erickson the Indianapolis Star.

Joe Flacco Isn’t Unfamiliar With Abrupt Exits Like the One He Just Experienced From Cleveland

Joe Flacco wants to start but still has the Browns high on his list ahead of free agency.

GettyQuarterback Joe Flacco, formerly of the Cleveland Browns.

Flacco wasn’t bitter in his answer, just genuine, as Erickson pointed out in his X post.

“[Flacco] says he’s also been around the game long enough to understand and know that things change year to year,” Erickson wrote.

The developments involving Flacco in Cleveland this offseason were nothing new for the former Super Bowl MVP.

The Baltimore Ravens moved on quickly from Flacco after he suffered a hip injury during the 2018 campaign, which was also the rookie year of now two-time regular season MVP Lamar Jackson. Jackson took over for Flacco, who never started another game in Baltimore and landed with the Denver Broncos the following season.

Flacco started eight games in Colorado in 2019 before the team decided to move on. The QB caught on with the New York Jets in 2020, where he remained as a backup and occasional starter for the next three years.

The Jets didn’t call ahead of last season, which left Flacco unemployed until the Browns came knocking in November following a season-ending injury to Deshaun Watson. Injuries and poor play from the likes of rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson and PJ Walker led to Flacco’s opportunity in Cleveland, of which he took full advantage.

Flacco finished the season 4-1 and helped the Browns earn the No. 5 seed/top Wildcard spot in the AFC. He averaged north of 300 passing yards across six total starts for the franchise, including the team’s playoff drubbing at the hands of the Houston Texans.

The Browns have expressed some interest in bringing back Joe Flacco to backup Deshaun Watson.

GettyFormer Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Browns haven’t come out and expressly stated why they chose Winston over Flacco, though the answer resides between the lines.

Flacco will play next season at 39 years old, while Winston will play at the age of 30. Flacco struggled with turnovers, throwing 10 interceptions across six starts, including two that the Texans defense returned for touchdowns during the second half of Cleveland’s playoff loss over Super Wildcard Weekend.

Winston is also prone to interceptions, having thrown 99 picks in 93 career games. However, he was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015 and surpassed 4,000 passing yards three times in his first five NFL seasons, including going over 5,000 yards to lead the league in 2019.

Flacco found something special in Cleveland last year, but to believe he can capture it all again in 2024 is to bet on an outlier. Flacco hadn’t played at that level in at least five years and was out of the league entirely until injury and circumstance resurrected his career with the Browns.

Fans wanted Flacco back, and the QB said himself he was interested in returning to Cleveland, but the Browns clearly felt that the $4.5 million Flacco will earn from the Colts this season would be better spent elsewhere. That said, the team did comment on Erickson’s X post with a thank you message to its former quarterback.

“Joe, it was one helluva ride,” the Browns official team account wrote. “You brought such a sense of joy and genuine excitement to this team game in and game out. We were proud to have you in the orange and brown and we wish you nothing but the best in Indianapolis.”

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