The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals square off in Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season (despite the game taking place in the year 2024). The two teams opened the season in a game that would do a good job of predicting what the year would look like for both of them.
The Browns won in Week 1 and have kept that up on the way to the playoffs all year. No one could have guessed that with all the injuries and QB Joe Flacco coming off the couch to start for Cleveland.
The Bengals fell in the opening contest and have struggled to find their footing this year. Cincinnati will miss the postseason and finish last in the AFC North.
Week 18 will only decide if the Browns get to 12 victories or Cincinnati gets their first division win.
Except for Flacco.
The veteran’s contract is set up so that he makes an extra 75K for every game he plays in that Cleveland wins. The bonuses are bigger in the postseason.
While the Browns reportedly plan to rest as many starters as they can, they are an organization that does right by its players. Could Flacco take one snap and either take a knee or hand it off before giving way to PJ Walker? Maybe he could just stand near the sideline for a Wildcat play.
HC Kevin Stefanski said he would discuss the decision with his quarterback:
“But I think it’s really important that you listen to your guys, both in this building, when you’re working and you’re in meetings and when you’re out there in the practice field. I think it’s important to listen to them on game day as well.
Cleveland’s backups would still need to knock off whatever Bengals players are on the field in a meaningless game.
Perhaps GM Andrew Berry can adjust the contract to award Flacco with the 75K or the veteran quarterback decides it doesn’t matter to him.
Big picture, an unimportant decision but one that will be interesting to see what happens.