Jets' Joe Flacco says he's embracing backup role but still hungry to start

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Newly signed quarterback Joe Flacco said he's "embracing" his role as Sam Darnold's backup with the New York Jets. But the former Super Bowl MVP indicated his goal is to return to a starting role.

"For sure," Flacco said Thursday in a video conference with reporters. "I mean, we're talking about [being a backup] and that is my role, to help the team out, but I obviously still believe I'm a starting quarterback.

"You never know what three years down the line is going to look like. So I have that confidence and I still have the [desire] do that.

"But at this moment, that's not my role. My role is to help the team get better and to help a young quarterback see things as clearly as possible and help him with his journey to be a longtime NFL quarterback."

The Jets, 0-6 over the past two seasons when Darnold didn't start because of injury or illness, signed Flacco to a one-year, $1.5 million contract to provide veteran insurance.

This is a new role for Flacco, the longtime Baltimore Ravens starter. He finished a season on the bench -- in 2018 when he was replaced by Lamar Jackson -- but he never started one as a backup. His career record is 98-73 as a starter, and he led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory after the 2012 season.

Flacco, 35, views this as a bridge season in his career, especially after having surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, a procedure that likely will keep him sidelined until the start of the regular season.

"I'm fully embracing it," he said of the backup job. "I mean, it's where I am right now. I'm glad to be on a team playing football in some capacity."

Flacco has been participating in virtual meetings this week, attempting to learn coach Adam Gase's offense. Once he gets comfortable with the playbook, he hopes to be able to share his experience with Darnold, who is entering his third season.

On Thursday, they spoke for the first time by phone. A year ago, Flacco was paired with rookie Drew Lock for the Denver Broncos. The difference was that Flacco was the starter and didn't see his job as a mentor to Lock, a second-round pick.

"It's tough," he said of his one year in Denver. "I think Drew was a young guy coming in in a different situation. Obviously, he knew what his role was at some point. He also was a decently high draft pick, so he had aspirations to play.

"Listen, I don't think there are any backups in this league that don't have aspirations to be a starting quarterback. It's just part of the business. It's part of being on a team and knowing your role. Roles can change here and there. You can be on different teams from year to year. I obviously know that at this point. But right now at this point in time, I know what my role is and I'm glad to do so."