The Jets and quarterback Joe Flacco, who was the Super Bowl’s most valuable player in 2013, have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, Flacco’s agency announced Friday on Twitter.
The move to bring in Flacco provides a veteran backup for Sam Darnold, the third-year starter, but Flacco’s 2019 season in Denver was cut short by a herniated disk that required an operation.
JL Sports, headed by Joe Linta, announced the agreement. Financial terms were not immediately disclosed, but ESPN reported the deal was worth $1.5 million and could reach $4.5 million with incentives.
Flacco, 35, spent his first 11 N.F.L. seasons in Baltimore, where current Jets General Manager, Joe Douglas, was a scout in 2008 — when the Ravens drafted the quarterback 18th over all out of Delaware. Flacco helped lead Baltimore to a Super Bowl victory to cap the 2012 season, beating Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31.
The Ravens then gave Flacco what was at the time the biggest quarterback deal in N.F.L. history, a six-year contract worth $120.6 million.
Last winter, Flacco’s time in Baltimore came to an end — officially clearing the way for Lamar Jackson — when the Ravens traded him to Denver for a fourth-round draft pick. Flacco started the first eight games for the Broncos, but injured his neck against Indianapolis in Week 8 and missed the rest of the season.
He was waived by Denver in March with a failed physical designation, but is expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp in the summer — if it goes on without disruption from the coronavirus pandemic.
With Flacco in the mix, the Jets suddenly have a crowded quarterbacks room that includes Darnold, David Fales, Mike White and James Morgan, who was drafted in the fourth round as a developmental arm.
But the need for a veteran backup for Darnold was magnified last season when he missed three games with mononucleosis. Trevor Siemian took over, but lasted just over a quarter, injuring an ankle and missing the rest of the season. The third-stringer Luke Falk started the next two games, but was ineffective.
Flacco has thrown for 40,067 yards with 218 touchdowns and 141 interceptions in 11 seasons. He struggled during Denver’s 2-6 first half of the season, throwing for only 1,822 yards with six TDs and five interceptions, and was sacked 26 times. Flacco said he initially had neck issues a few weeks before the game against the Colts.
After the season, Flacco was optimistic he would be medically cleared and able to continue his career. He also said he would be open to a backup job, if that scenario played out.
“I’m probably a little bit more worried about other things at this point,” Flacco said on Dec. 30. “If that’s what it has to be, then, I want to play football.”
Joining the Jets will mean a bit of a homecoming for Flacco, who’s from Audubon, N.J., which is about 90 minutes south of the team’s training facility in Florham Park.