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Report: Patriots interested in Flacco as bridge starter to mentor rookie QB

Report: Patriots interested in Flacco as bridge starter to mentor rookie QB originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots could be in the mix for 39-year-old quarterback Joe Flacco this offseason, longtime Cleveland Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported on Thursday.

“I’m hearing the Patriots are interested in possibly signing Flacco as a bridge starter to help mentor a rookie quarterback if they select one at No. 3 overall, such as North Carolina’s Drake Maye,” Cabot wrote.

Flacco, who stepped in as the Browns’ starting quarterback after an injury sidelined Deshaun Watson, led Cleveland to the playoffs after helping them finish the 2023 regular season with a 4-1 record. In his five games as the starter, Flacco completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,616 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Flacco’s triumphant return to the game earned him the Comeback Player of the Year award.

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While it may sound surprising that a team looking to rebuild wants to sign a near-40-year-old, it does make a good amount of sense. When the Patriots drafted Mac Jones in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Alabama product started immediately. While he found success in his rookie year, his performance slowly started to deteriorate, culminating in a disastrous 2023 campaign that saw him get benched in multiple games.

In hopes to avoid a similar situation, New England could look to take a page from the Green Bay Packers’ playbook. The Packers have seemingly hit on every quarterback they’ve drafted in recent history, allowing the newly drafted QB to have some time on the bench learning from an older veteran before getting any real playing time themselves.

In Green Bay’s most recent case, Jordan Love spent his first two seasons on the bench under Aaron Rodgers. When Love took over the starting role this year, he looked great, throwing for 4,159 yards with 32 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. Prior to Love, it was Rodgers who spent time on the sideline learning under Hall of Famer Brett Favre.

With the Patriots holding the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft, New England could look to draft its future franchise quarterback in a guy like Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels and have them sit and learn under Flacco for a season.

With a fresh coaching staff in New England, Flacco also has ties to the Patriots’ new offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt. Van Pelt spent last season with Flacco in Cleveland and found success working with the veteran quarterback.

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