Cleveland Browns QB depth chart after signing former rival: DTR may be toast

The Cleveland Browns are signing Joe Flacco to the practice squad. Will he take the starting job?

Joe Flacco, New York Jets
Joe Flacco, New York Jets / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns are making moves after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 13-10 on Sunday. With Deshaun Watson out for the season, rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson was named starter for the second time of his career. To nobody's surprise, DTR delivered more bad than good, completing 24-of-43 passes for 165 yards and one interception. He added 20 yards on the ground, but finished with a paltry 32.3 QBR.

Still, Cleveland won the game, advancing to 7-3 on the season and claiming sole possession of second place in the AFC North. With the league's best defense, the Browns have the ability to make noise in the postseason. It's hard to get one's hopes up given the QB situation, though.

The front office made a move to address QB concerns late Sunday evening, signing 15-year NFL vet and 2013 Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco to the practice squad, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Flacco worked out with Cleveland earlier in the week. Now, he is expected to join the active roster soon as another arm at offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt's disposal.

Cleveland Browns QB depth chart: Joe Flacco joins mix as potential Deshaun Watson replacement

Flacco is notably signing to the practice squad, not the 53-man roster. He could need time to get up to speed in the Browns' offense. He spent last season with the New York Jets, appearing in five games (four starts) with 1,051 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions on a 57.3 percent completion rate.

He's certainly not the steadfast Pro Bowl talent of old. At 38 years old, durability and arm strength is a real concern for Flacco, even if he can still stand tall in the pocket at 6-foot-6. For Cleveland, however, it can't hurt to explore alternatives to P.J. Walker (three starts, one touchdown, five interceptions) and DTR (two starts, zero touchdowns, three interceptions).

Here's how the official depth chart will probably read as the practice week begins and Flacco gets moved to the active roster.

1. Dorian Thompson-Robinson
2. P.J. Walker
3. Joe Flacco
4. Deshaun Watson (IR)

Now, that does not mean Thompson-Robinson will stay in the No. 1 spot. The Browns don't sign Flacco unless there's a palpable desire for change inside the organization. It's totally normal to only roster two QBs, so the Browns could have proceeded with Thompson-Robinson and Walker and said that's that. Flacco probably doesn't sign if he's relegated to the practice squad either. He clearly sees a window of opportunity here, one the Browns are purposefully holding open.

It's fair to write off the Browns as Super Bowl contenders following the Watson news, but it's hard to overstate the value of a No. 1 defense, a solid offensive line, and a good coach. If Flacco can simply manage the game and avoid costly mistakes, he probably profiles as Cleveland's best option. Certainly not a great option, but neither DTR nor Walker have what it takes based on their performance so far this season. Flacco was at least a passable backup in 2022.

Don't be shocked if, by the time Week 12 or 13 rolls around, Flacco is the Browns' starting QB.

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