One of Nick Sirianni’s core beliefs is something he has said many times: He wants competition across the board at every position, quarterback included. That’s why the addition of Joe Flacco, a veteran who has done it all in the NFL, is so intriguing for the quarterback room.
While the Eagles are high on second-year man Jalen Hurts based on their study of him coming out of college in the 2020 NFL Draft and from what they saw of him last season in five games and four starts, they are going to challenge the position. Flacco, now healthy and still in possession of one of the game’s biggest arms, is here to do just that.
We know that depth is important, so very important at the quarterback position. Behind every good quarterback in the NFL is a backup who knows his role as a mentor, helping hand, and step-in player who is ready to enter the lineup at a moment’s notice and guide the offense without skipping a beat. It requires a certain mindset as well as the ability to perform at a high level without the benefit of taking a lot of practice reps during the week.
And the importance of such a player? Well, we understand it all too well, as Nick Foles stepped into the lineup late in the 2017 season and helped the Eagles clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs before, you obviously remember, leading the Eagles to a win in Super Bowl LII.
The Eagles believe Flacco has plenty of gas left in his tank. Few quarterbacks understand the position as well as Flacco, a veteran of 13 NFL seasons. He’s been a starter in the league. He’s won a Super Bowl (Flacco was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII when Baltimore defeated San Francisco). He has won tough games – Flacco has an NFL-record-tying seven road wins in his playoff history and has compiled a 10-5 postseason record – and he’s been durable, having started 16 games in each of his first seven seasons and nine of his first 10.
At the age of 36, Flacco is still eager to contribute and that’s why the Eagles were so eager to have Flacco, an Audobon, N.J. native, swing by the NovaCare Complex on Monday for a visit and, ultimately on Tuesday, a deal: Flacco has agreed to a one-year contract with Philadelphia to come in and compete with Hurts for the 2021 season.
Adding Flacco solves a very important question of depth at the position as he and Hurts are now the two quarterbacks under contract at this point in the offseason. It’s likely the Eagles will add more arms to the room – teams typically keep four quarterbacks on the roster through Training Camp – but they are extremely solid at one and two, however that plays out.
Flacco most recently backed up Sam Darnold with the Jets last season and ended up starting four games. Flacco completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 864 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. He has one of the game’s biggest arms, has seen everything in the NFL in his 13 seasons, and understands the importance of bringing Hurts along and pushing him on and off the field as the second-year man looks to be a full-time starter for the first time in his professional life.
In a remarkable NFL career since his playing days at the University of Delaware ended, Flacco has thrown for 40,931 yards, 224 touchdowns, and 144 interceptions in 176 games (175 starts). Flacco played for 11 seasons in Baltimore, one in Denver, and last season in New York. Yes, he’s been around the block, and that’s exactly the reason the Eagles – with a new coaching staff headed by Nick Sirianni and a young quarterback in Hurts – were so interested in adding Flacco.
A neck injury ended Flacco’s 2019 season prematurely in Denver and he moved on to New York in 2020 after having surgery. Flacco ended 2020 healthy and ready to continue his NFL career and, here he is, with the team he rooted for as a youngster living in South Jersey.
For the Eagles, it’s the perfect fit. For Flacco, it is a great landing spot at this point in his career, a career that has had more than its share of successes – the Super Bowl win and MVP honors, a contract he signed in 2013 that made Flacco, however briefly, the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL, all the road wins and postseason victories, and, ultimately, the transition to backup status.
Flacco’s skill set is as a classic dropback thrower with a lively arm. He will help Sirianni and Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen teach the offense – Flacco has been around long enough to understand every concept in any scheme – and, of course, answer any questions Hurts and the rest of the quarterbacks in the room will have.
No question the Eagles are high on Hurts. They think competition will bring out the best in him, as well as for every position on the roster. Flacco is here to play his best football, upgrade the talent and depth at the position, and play a key role on the field and in the locker room, and the Eagles are still going to keep their eyes and options open as they build the roster and challenge every corner of the locker room.