BEREA, Ohio — Joe Flacco’s officially signed and sealed with Cleveland. He’s already delivered.

Flacco got a one-year, $4.05 million contract — loaded with incentives — on Thursday from the Browns, who brought in the veteran quarterback last month while in emergency mode after losing starter Deshaun Watson for the season with a right shoulder injury.

Flacco’s deal means the 38-year-old moves from the practice squad to the active roster. And while it was more procedural than anything, it assures he’ll be with the Browns (8-5) as they try to clinch a playoff spot.

The team elevated Flacco from the practice squad in each of the past two weeks to start games against the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville.

While he was on the practice squad, other teams could have signed him, and Flacco wasn’t aware of any trying.

“I wouldn’t have went though, anyway,” he said. “It’s been great here.”


Flacco can earn $75,000 for each win in any of Cleveland’s four remaining regular-season games, $250,000 for a wild-card win, $500,000 for a divisional playoff win, $1 million for an AFC title and another $2 million if the Browns win the Super Bowl.

ESPN first reported terms of Flacco’s deal.

A father of five, Flacco was home in New Jersey pondering his future and wondering if his career was over when the Browns called. The former Super Bowl MVP with Baltimore tried out, signed on Nov. 20 and is back leading a team.

It’s possible Flacco’s stay in Cleveland could extend beyond this season, but he’s only focused on playing this week. Could he be back with the Browns in 2024?

“Who knows?” he said. “I’m just taking it day by day.”

PATRIOTS: Entering Week 15, rookie Bryce Baringer is leading the AFC in the Pro Bowl for the punter position.


The sixth-round pick has certainly had plenty of opportunities to perform his job this season with the Patriots struggling, but Baringer has had multiple eye-opening punts this fall.

Entering this week, Baringer is third in the NFL in total punts (63), fourth in punting yards (3,393), and has the third-longest punt (79 yards) of the season. In 13 games, Baringer is averaging 47.1 yards per punt. In 72 punt attempts, he has only seven touchbacks this season.

Baringer has excelled at pinning the ball inside the 20-yard line. He leads the NFL with 31 punts inside the 20. He’s had 43.1% of his punts land inside the 20-yard line and that’s the seventh-best percentage in the NFL.

PACKERS: Running back AJ Dillon has a broken right thumb, and it’s not clear whether he’ll play Sunday against Tampa Bay.

The injury occurred during the Packers’ final drive in their 24-22 loss to the New York Giants on Monday night.

The Packers (6-7) were already thin at running back. Aaron Jones has missed the last three games with a knee injury and was limited in Thursday’s practice.


“I’m feeling a lot better,” Jones said. “Got to move around today in practice and making great strides. So, I’m going to take it day by day, but I feel I’m confident for Sunday.”

VIKINGS: Running back Alexander Mattison and right tackle Brian O’Neill have been ruled out of of Saturday’s game at Cincinnati because of ankle sprains.

Wide receiver Justin Jefferson was listed as questionable Thursday on the final injury report of the week with a bruised chest that forced him out of the previous game. Jefferson said he plans to play Saturday against the Bengals.

David Quessenberry took over for O’Neill when the injury sidelined him last week in the 3-0 victory at Las Vegas. Mattison was also forced out of the game, putting Ty Chandler in the lead role in the backfield and moving Kene Nwangwu into the mix for carries.

STEELERS: Linebacker T.J. Watt says he feels “great” after coming out of concussion protocol and expects to play on Saturday when the Steelers (7-6) visit Indianapolis (7-6).

Watt reported concussion-like symptoms last Friday, the day after taking a knee to the facemask from New England running back Ezekiel Elliott on the first play of what became a 21-18 loss to the Patriots. He returned to practice on Tuesday and was cleared by an independent neurologist Wednesday night.


THE NFL CONTINUES to make incremental, widespread progress in its diversity hiring practices, according to an annual report. Thursday’s report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida gave the NFL an overall grade of B-plus, which is the highest mark for the league since the study began in 1988. The league received a B-plus mark for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring.

There are still a few areas of concern – particularly in the ownership ranks – but TIDES director Adrien Bouchet said Thursday that the report is largely good news.

“It’s the most positive NFL report since we started doing them,” Bouchet said.

JAGUARS: A 31-year-old former financial manager accused of stealing more than $22 million from the NFL franchise through its virtual credit card program pleaded guilty to federal charges Thursday and faces up to 30 years in prison.

Amit Patel, wearing a dark suit and a burgundy tie, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of engaging in an illegal monetary transaction in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville. As part of his plea agreement, he will forfeit property and assets funded with the money he admittedly stole from the NFL franchise between 2019 and 2023. He also will be required to provide restitution to the victim.

He will be formally sentenced at a later date.

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