BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Joe Flacco used to beat the Browns regularly. He might be joining them.
The former Super Bowl MVP worked out Friday for Cleveland, which is still sorting through its quarterback situation after losing Deshaun Watson with a season-ending shoulder injury, several people familiar with his visit told The Associated Press.
The 38-year-old Flacco could be an option for the Browns, who lost Watson for the remainder of this season when he fractured his right shoulder in the first half of last week’s 33-31 comeback win at Baltimore.
Flacco went home without signing a contract, but there remains mutual interest between the veteran QB and the team, said one of the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The Browns are expected to sign a third quarterback next week before beginning their preparation for a Nov. 26 game at Denver.
Watson played the second half and went 14 of 14 passing despite his shoulder injury and high left ankle sprain. He’ll undergo surgery to repair the fracture in his shoulder next week in Los Angeles and then begin rehab.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski would not confirm Flacco’s workout following practice, saying only “we bring a lot of guys in.”
Flacco has an 18-3 career mark against the Browns, and last season he rallied the New York Jets to an improbable comeback win over them. He hasn’t been on any roster in 2023. But he has kept open the possibility of returning, and Cleveland has a pressing need.
The idea of adding him was met with approval from several Browns players.
“Joe’s a leader,” said wide receiver, who played two seasons with Flacco in New York. “I feel like he has a lot of experience. He knows football, and how could you not want to lean on somebody who knows football? He played the game for a long time at a very, very high level, the highest level. MVP level. So major respect to him.”
Watson’s injury has threatened to derail a promising season for the Browns (6-3), who won’t have their franchise QB until 2024 at the earliest and need help now.
With Watson sidelined, the Browns are starting rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) with P.J. Walker as his backup. Thompson-Robinson threw three interceptions in his only start against the Ravens on Oct. 1.
Earlier this week, Browns general manager Andrew Berry said the team will add a third QB, but he didn’t specify if it would be to the active roster or practice squad. The Browns may wait to see how Thompson-Robinson does in his second career start before making any decisions.
Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP in 2013 after leading the Ravens to a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers. He completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns.
The 6-foot-6 QB has passed for 42,320 yards and gone 99-81 as a starter in 180 career NFL starts. Flacco played 11 seasons for the Ravens, three with the Jets and one in Denver.
Like Moore, Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett believes Flacco would be a major asset — as a player or simply to help Thompson-Robinson.
“Maturity and experience. Wisdom,” Garrett said when asked the value of adding a player like Flacco. “As much as Deshaun has played, Flacco’s seen more. He’s been to the highest level. He can provide that little bit of a mentor role even if he doesn’t see the field being there and being a consistent leader.”
NOTES: Rookie RT Dawand Jones (knee) said he’s good to go Sunday after missing last week’s game. The Browns are listing him as questionable. … Stefanski said Geron Christian Sr. will make his second straight start at left tackle. Starter Jedrick Wills Jr. is on injured reserve with a knee injury. … WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion) and S Juan Thornhill (calf) will both miss their second straight games Sunday.
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