Joe Flacco leaves no doubt about desired free agency destination

Joe Flacco has a soft spot for the Cleveland Browns.

Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns
Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Cleveland Browns finished last season 11-6 despite Deshaun Watson's season-ending injury, which held the 2017 first-round pick to six total appearances. The majority of the credit belongs to Cleveland's elite defense, but their backup QB apparatus made the most of unfortunate circumstances.

None stood out more than Joe Flacco, who went 4-1 in five regular season starts to finish the season. It all came crashing to a halt in the Wild Card round, but even so, Flacco's success was one of the best storylines in football. The 39-year-old, who appeared to be out of the league beforehand, completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,616 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight interceptions in five starts.

Odds are no team hands Flacco another starting gig in 2024, but he will absolutely get a camp invite and a chance to compete for the backup QB job somewhere. The Browns are expected to reintroduce Watson to the offense next season, but we cannot rule out Flacco returning as Cleveland's QB2.

Appearing on The Sirius XM Blitz with Bruce Murray, Flacco spoke candidly about his feelings for Cleveland. While he will consider all his options, it's clear the Browns are his preference.

"All things equal, Cleveland is definitely the place I feel best about... Cleveland is an unbelievable place, and it will hold a special value when I make those decisions."

Flacco also noted his desire to "play football," which might not happen much in Cleveland. But, if no teams come forward to serve up a starting role on a silver platter, Flacco could opt for the comforts of a city he holds dearly in his heart.

Joe Flacco expresses desire to play with Browns again if 'all things equal'

Flacco proved he can still help a team win last season. "How much?" is the question. Flacco was pretty much in the perfect situation, carried through several mistakes by the NFL's most dominant defense. Cleveland allowed 19.7 fewer yards per game than the second-best defense in 2023. Flacco has experience riding the coattails of great defenses dating back to his days in Baltimore.

That's not meant to remove all credit from Flacco, though. He stood tall in the pocket — literally and figuratively — to deliver several impressive passes on a weekly basis. His veteran poise and surprising arm strength was all Cleveland needed to resuscitate a dying offense. The Browns tried to make due with P.J. Walker and Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but the difference in quality compared to Flacco was drastic.

The "game manager" label has developed a negative connotation, but at this point, that is the best way to describe Flacco. He is going to occasionally push the boundaries of his athleticism (eight INTs in five weeks is a big number), but Flacco generally executes the offense as it is drawn up, suitably delivering the pigskin to his top playmakers in advantageous positions.

If he can keep it up in 2024, he's going to make one heck of a backup QB. Not to mention the leadership qualities and corporate knowledge Flacco brings to a sideline. Whether it's with the Browns or a new franchise, Flacco still has something to offer.

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