Joe Flacco is back in Florham Park and believes he’s here to play — just not immediately and likely not in the long-term.
Four days after the Jets acquired the veteran quarterback from the Eagles, Flacco reported on Friday and suited up for his first practice. He will be inactive for Sunday’s game against the Bengals, with Mike White starting for the injured Zach Wilson, but Flacco believes he can get up to speed with the offense quick enough to possibly be an option to start Thursday against the Colts.
“I’ve played long enough to be able to adapt as much as I can on the fly and be ready as soon as possible,” Flacco said Friday. “I think I see myself playing here at some point in the next couple weeks.”
Flacco, whose arrival was delayed by what he described as “logistics,” was acquired for a conditional sixth-round pick that could become a fifth-round pick based on playing time. How much playing time he actually gets remains to be seen — the Jets still haven’t decided whether they will put Wilson (knee) on injured reserve, which would cost him at least three games — but Flacco will provide insurance in the meantime.
After spending last season with the Jets, Flacco returns to the team with a new coaching staff and a new offense to learn. But head coach Robert Saleh noted that the 36-year-old has played under two assistants (Gary Kubiak in 2014 and Rich Scangarello in 2019) with ties to the Shanahan offense that offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur runs, and Flacco believes he can learn it “relatively quickly.”
“There’s a lot of familiarity with it, it’s just kind of a process of getting yourself back up to speed with it and seeing what they’ve installed and what they really like to run,” said Flacco, who had been participating in meetings virtually before Friday.
On Sunday, veteran Josh Johnson will be bumped up from the practice squad to be active and back up White, though Flacco will be on the sideline.
“Happy he’s here,” Saleh said.
When Wilson does return from his sprained PCL, Flacco said he would take on whatever role he was asked to, but wouldn’t necessarily go out of his way to be the “mentor” type.
“I don’t necessarily see veteran players as always being the best mentors, and that’s probably including myself,” Flacco said. “But yes, when it comes down to it, I’m a team guy. I have great relationships with guys. So whatever my role is at this point, when I’m in that role, I’m going to do it.
“I will embrace that role. But at the same time, I think I’m here to, in the short term, help out as much as I can on the field.”
Flacco started four games for the Jets last season after Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder injury in October. The Jets were interested in bringing back Flacco last offseason, but instead he signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Eagles.
“Maybe I had an opportunity to come here, maybe not,” Flacco said. “I felt like Philly was probably the one chance that I really felt like they were my opportunity. At the same time, Sam was still here, the draft hadn’t happened yet. I probably didn’t need to make a decision super quick about it, but I felt like I had to in that moment to keep myself — and I thought that was a good situation down there.”
Still, Flacco said he was “excited” by the trade — keeping him close to his home in New Jersey while also giving him a chance to play.
“I have a lot of great relationships up here with players, with people that are in the building,” he said. “Anytime you’re looking at an opportunity to play football, it’s exciting.”