Jan 16, 2024 - Sports

Browns season ends with Flacco's future in doubt

Joe Flacco of the Browns stands on the field with his hands on his hips.

The magic is gone. Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Browns' magical season ended brutally on Saturday.

Driving the news: Cleveland lost its wildcard playoff game to the Houston Texans, 45-14.

Flashback: Most people had written the team off after injuries to players like Deshaun Watson, Nick Chubb, and Jack Conklin early in the season.

  • The team persevered behind quarterback Joe Flacco, who came off the couch in December to lead them to an 11-5 record and the fifth seed in the AFC.

Yes, but: That run came to an end last weekend when Flacco threw back-to-back interceptions that Houston returned for touchdowns.

State of play: Flacco's time with the Browns is likely short-lived. Watson — who the team signed to a five-year, $230 million contract in 2022 — is considered the long-term starter.

  • Cleveland is projected to be nearly $14 million over the salary cap next season with several players set to hit free agency.

The intrigue: The team's biggest decision centers on star running back Chubb, who suffered a knee injury in September that required two surgeries.

  • His contract has one year left, and cutting him would shed nearly $12 million in salary cap space.

Between the lines: The Browns are without a first-round pick in 2024 after trading it to the Texans for Watson.

  • Cleveland may look to free agency for offensive line help and a second wide receiver to complement Amari Cooper.

The bottom line: The playoff loss stings, but the Browns have something to build on if everyone can stay healthy next season.

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