‘Head-Shaking’ Details on Browns’ Offer to Flacco Leak After Team Inks Winston

Joe Flacco, Browns

Getty Quarterback Joe Flacco, formerly of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns clearly weren’t as high on a future with Joe Flacco as their fanbase, after details of their offer to the veteran quarterback leaked into the public sphere.

Tony Grossi of The Land on Demand and ESPN 850 reported on Tuesday, March 12 that the team came in surprisingly low on its offer to Flacco to return as Deshaun Watson’s backup in 2024.

“Can confirm Browns didn’t even offer Joe Flacco a split minimum contract, which is even a worse offer than full minimum,” Grossi wrote. “Smh (shaking my head).”

City of Cleveland Fell in Love With Joe Flacco After Late-Season Success

Joe Flacco could be back with the Cleveland Browns next season to backup Deshaun Watson.

GettyFormer Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco will play elsewhere in 2024.

The offer from the Browns to Flacco didn’t match up with the production the veteran QB provided Cleveland down the stretch last season.

Flacco averaged north of 300 yards passing across five regular-season starts and one playoff start, leading the Browns to a 4-1 record through the end of Week 17. That run locked up the top Wildcard seed in the AFC (No. 5) for the team.

Cleveland then sat Flacco in Week 18 against the Cincinnati Bengals, a game the Browns ended up losing as there was no playoff incentive to pursue victory.

The Browns finished the year 11-5, then fell to the Houston Texans over Super Wildcard Weekend. Flacco eclipsed 300 yards passing in that contest as well, though he also threw two interceptions in the second half — each of which Texans defenders returned for touchdowns, thereby sealing Cleveland’s fate.

The argument against Flacco is two-fold: the number of interceptions he threw in six starts (10 total) and his age (he will play at 39 years old next season). The argument for him is the success he had after Watson’s season-ending shoulder injury and how quickly beloved he became inside the locker room and around the city.

“For many, Flacco made watching the Browns fun again,” Scott Petrak of Browns Zone wrote on Tuesday. “He was a breath of fresh air, and his enthusiasm for the game at 38 years old was obvious and appreciated. He told stories of being cheered at restaurants around town.”

Browns Betting on Jameis Winston’s Youth, That Joe Flacco’s 2023 Performance Was a Fluke

Jameis Winston

GettyThe Cleveland Browns signed Jameis Winston as their backup QB in March 2024. 

But the fanfare clearly wasn’t enough to convince the Browns’ front office to double-down on Flacco moving forward. Instead, the team chose to sign Jameis Winston, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and most recently the backup QB for the New Orleans Saints.

Petrak noted the age difference between Winston and Flacco (nine years) and the potential dynamic of Flacco in the locker room behind Watson if the latter should continue to struggle after the Browns signed him to a $230 million fully-guaranteed deal two seasons ago — arguably the worst contract in the league as Watson enters year three of five.

But despite legitimate reasons on the part of general manager Andrew Berry for choosing Winston over Flacco, the decision may still ultimately prove a mistake. For instance, if fans who support the move didn’t like Flacco’s tendency for interceptions, Winston’s style of play is going to make them crazy. He has thrown 99 picks in 93 NFL appearances.

“The choice of Winston feels like the Browns believe they caught lightning in a bottle with Flacco last year. They might be right. He’d have a hard time duplicating that success at 39,” Petrak wrote. “But if the Browns need to win one game next season, either in the playoffs or to make them, and Watson isn’t available, I’d trust Flacco before Winston.”

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