The house Joe Flacco grew up in, in Audubon, N.J., is roughly seven miles from the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex.
In 2008, when Flacco was drafted 18th overall in the first round by the Baltimore Ravens, Flacco’s family was thrilled; Baltimore was just two hours away!
Tuesday, after 13 NFL seasons that included spending 2019 in Denver and 2020 with the New York Jets, Flacco came home. He signed a one-year contract with the Eagles, which a source said pays $3.5 million guaranteed, with the chance for Flacco to tack on $4 million more in incentives. The extra money presumably would come into play if Flacco were to start a lot of games this season. That probably is not what the Eagles have in mind, but as they’ve learned, it pays to have contingency plans.
Flacco, 36, was signed to back up Jalen Hurts, after a Monday free agent visit. If you’re Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, spending decent money on a veteran with 175 career starts might nudge the needle a little farther away from the QB position when your turn comes sixth overall in the April 29 draft, but it doesn’t mean that pick definitely won’t be a quarterback. Hurts was the only QB the team had under contract, after Carson Wentz was traded to the Colts and Nate Sudfeld became a free agent. Fielding a group consisting of a sixth-overall rookie, Hurts, and Flacco wouldn’t be crazy or outlandish.
Flacco fought being consigned to backup duty in his 2018 final season in Baltimore, when he ultimately was replaced by rookie Lamar Jackson, and then again in 2019, when he competed against rookie Drew Lock in Denver. That episode ended in disk surgery on Flacco’s neck, which raised speculation about his ability to continue to play. By the time he got to the Jets last year, he was quoted as being happy just to have an NFL job, and was willing to act as a mentor for Sam Darnold.
The Jets got Flacco dirt cheap, $1.5 million with a possible extra $3 million in incentives. After proving he was healthy in four starts (six touchdowns, three interceptions), Flacco was looking for a better deal, and he got one from the Eagles, who were in a tight spot. The backup QB market looked very healthy when free agency began, but there were plenty of shoppers. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jacoby Brissett, and Tyrod Taylor were whisked from the shelves before the cap-strapped Eagles could blink.
The Eagles had to find experience somewhere. They found it in the Super Bowl XLVII MVP, who has thrown for 40,931 career yards.
As he prepared for that Super Bowl, eight years ago, Flacco was asked about having grown up in Audubon, adjacent to Haddon Township, where his dad, Stephen, was a football and baseball star who went on to play both sports at Penn.
“I think a lot of people’s personality is shaped from where they are from and what kind of environment they grew up in,” Flacco said. “It is a very small town, very tight-knit group. I think it just makes you proud, and I hope we can go out there and represent them well.”
Flacco has worn No. 5, in high school, in college at Delaware, and in all three pro stops. That might be a problem here, with Donovan McNabb’s number retired.