The past two quarterbacks to lead the Cleveland Browns to the NFL playoffs are up for a prestigious award this year. Baker Mayfield was under center for an 11-5 campaign in 2020 that landed the Browns in the postseason and this year, Joe Flacco took over the reins to close out an 11-6 season.
Mayfield, who spent time with the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams in 2022, wound up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year where he replaced Tom Brady. He led them to the NFC South title and a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the playoffs. The former No. 1 overall pick had 4,044 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 picks.
Flacco joined the Browns in November after starting the season without a team. He started five games and won four of them — which came in a row. He had more yards (1,616) and touchdown passes (13) than anyone else during those five weeks and while the team lost in the Wild Card Round, he was credited with keeping their season alive.
Who is challenging the Browns and Bucs QB?
In addition to Flacco and Mayfield, Matthew Stafford and Tua Tagovailoa are also up for the award. Each came back from significant injuries last year and led their respective teams to the playoffs once again.
The only non-quarterback on the list is Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills safety who collapsed on the field last year during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Hamlin suffered an episode of commotio cortis, which is an incredibly rare occurrence. Trainers and first responders had to administer CPR and the game was cancelled as Hamlin fought for his life.
Surprisingly, he returned to the field this year and appeared in five games for the Bills. His stats aren't what make his story impressive but rather that he overcame the largets of odds to return to the game he loves.