Option II: This QB deserves strong consideration.
I loved what undrafted former Washington QB Jake Browning brought to the NFL Even as he suffered a shoulder injury in college, I knew that he would be back, stronger than ever. While that proved to be prophetic, even I admit that I never expected his debut in the NFL to be delayed until the 2023 NFL season. But it was certainly worth the wait.
The Cincinnati Bengals finished 2023 with a record of 9-8. Over the course of the season, starting quarterback Joe Burrow appeared in 10 games, and the team finished with a record of 5-5. When backup QB Jake Browning was under center, the Bengals finished with a record of 4-3. So is Browning nearly as capable of starting in the NFL as Joe Burrow?
While I won't go that far, I would say that Browning was an incredible value for the Bengals in 2023, playing on a one-year contract for just $750,000. That is insane, as he completed 171 of 243 passes (a 70.4 percent completion rate) in his first season of NFL action, throwing for 1,936 yards, 12 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He was able to move the chains with his legs as well, running 27 times for 127 yards, three touchdowns, and 12 first downs. Unfortunately, he fumbled the football three times.
Browning is a 6-foot-2, 209-pound quarterback who last played NCAA football for the University of Washington in 2018. As far back as August 2018, some draft scouts saw huge potential in Browning., but it was not a consensus. He did work with the Minnesota Vikings for two seasons but was finally waived in September 2020. The Bengals added him to the practice squad in 2021.
Getting his first live action at 27 years old may not seem to be an ideal age. But it certainly explains why Browning displays so much poise and maturity in the pocket. Although he had significant success in the Bengals offense in 2023, the questions that surround the guy for the 2024 season could create an opportunity to another one-year prove-it deal. He may not be a true NFL starter, but he has proven to be up to the task of piloting a high performance NFL offense off the bench.