Joe Flacco was named the Comeback Player of the Year for his heroics with the Cleveland Browns but not everyone was happy about the 39-year-old quarterback taking home the award.
Flacco edged out Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin 151-140 in the voting. Hamlin was the heavy favorite for most of the year. He returned to play this season with the Bills after suffering a cardiac arrest on the field in January of 2023.
Flacco was signed off the couch by the Browns in November. He provided a spark for Cleveland’s offense in the regular season, going 4-1 in his starts while passing for 1,616 yards and 13 touchdowns. But turnovers were an issue. He tossed eight interceptions during his five regular season appearances. He threw two more against the Houston Texans during a 45-14 wild-card thumping. Both were returned for touchdowns.
Peter King of NBC Sports called Flacco winning “absurd” in the latest edition of his Football Morning in America column.
“It’s ridiculous that Joe Flacco, who came back from sitting on his couch for two-and-a-half months, won Comeback Player over Damar Hamlin, who came back from having to be resuscitated back to life on a football field last January,” King wrote. “What’s stronger than ridiculous? Absurd? Okay. It was absurd.”
Browns QB Joe Flacco Felt Damar Hamlin Deserved the Award
It’s not a unique take from King. Flacco even said that Hamlin deserved the award.
“I don’t necessarily know what I’m coming back from,” Flacco said during an appearance on the Zach Gelb Show on January 26. “I would say most of the guys on that list, I’m not sure what we’re coming back from. So that’s probably my initial reaction. But I think any time that you’re getting recognized in this league for playing well, I guess, it can be flattering. So, it’s a cool group to be a part of, that’s for sure. But yeah, that’s my initial thought.”
Flacco was a gracious winner when receiving the award. He thanked the Browns for the opportunity to start — a move that gave him a chance to continue his 16-year career.
“Big thanks to the city of Cleveland and everybody in Cleveland. I want to say thank you to my teammates for welcoming me into the locker room at that point in the year,” Flacco said on stage at the NFL Honors. “To welcome a new guy is not the easiest thing, so I want to say thank you to those guys. I want to say thank you to the organization for giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do, which is to play football.”
Joe Flacco Weighing Return to Browns
Flacco will be a free agent this offseason. he’s likely created a market for himself thanks to his Comeback Player of the Year-worthy play. The Browns would like to have him back. However, he’d be the backup to Deshaun Watson if he does return.
Flacco has not made any decisions on his next move yet. But he did note a return to Cleveland is not out of the question.
“I’m open to be back in Cleveland, but I don’t want to rush to any decisions,” Flacco said on January 18 during an appearance on the “Pardon My Take” podcast. “I can’t say enough good things about how this organization is being run right now.”
Watson is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. However, this past season created some questions about his health. Having a capable veteran like Flacco waiting in the wings would be a big plus for the Browns.
The other option for the Browns is Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He’ll be entering his second season. The fifth-round pick saw some action last year but needs to gain a little more experience before being locked in as Watson’s No. 2.