Should the Cincinnati Bengals keep backup QB Jake Browning long-term?

Browning played some solid football in Joe Burrow's absence last season.
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Who knew that 2023 would be the year of the backup quarterback? Who knew that so many QBs with promising seasons ahead of them would be faced with season-ending injuries?

No one, probably, but that's what happened, with Joe Burrow's injury being one of the biggest stories of the '23 NFL season.

Fans assumed that all was lost when Burrow's season ended in Week 11 due to a torn ligament in his wrist, and while playoffs weren't in the cards for Cincinnati, backup quarterback Jake Browning was able to step up when it counted and win some games.

This is probably why Cincinnati decided to give Browning a tender offer -- he can choose to sign it, or even engage in a long-term negotiation. So, that brings about a question: Should the Bengals keep Browning long-term?

The Case For Yes

In the 2023 season, Browning tossed12 touchdowns (against seven interceptions), and he threw for1,936 passing yards. Considering that this wasn't a compete season and it was Browning's first time starting in the NFL, his play was pretty productive. Going from being on the Bengals' practice squad for two years to stepping in and stepping up, Browning proved his capability for if, and when, he is needed in the future.

Browning also had a few noteworthy plays this season as well. Who could forget when Browning connected with Ja'Marr Chase on a third-and-2 in Week 13, and that catch turned into a 76-yard touchdown?

At that point, the Bengals were still in the playoff hunt, and this moment showed promise and talent from both players. In Week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings, Browning was able to connect with Joe Mixon on a critical fourth-and-goal, tying the score 17-17. That game then went into overtime, which ultimately resulted in a 27-24 Bengals win. Browning had 324 passing yards in the game.

Browning has also shown an ability to make plays with his feet, like he did when it was third-and-9 in the first quarter in Week 17 against the Kansas City Chiefs, and he ran for a first down. Browning also makes it a point to use all of the talent he has around him, as he typically throws the ball to multiple different players during the same possession. All in all, if Burrow can't play temporarily, Browning should.

The Case For No

QB Joe Burrow has faced lots of injuries over the years, so having a decent, solid backup is an unfortunate necessity. Browning has only been the starting QB for seven games total, which is not much experience at all. No one wants to see Burrow injured again, but just in case, having a more seasoned backup would make sense.

Not to mention, Browning had seven interceptions this season, and he did not play a full season. In Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Browning threw three picks, one of which put the Steelers in excellent field position that they were able to capitalize on. The final score of that game was 34-11, and the loss dropped Cincinnati to 8-7 on the season.

Even the best quarterbacks have bad games, throw interceptions, get sacked and make misreads, but if you're going to back up one of the best QBs in the entire league, quality and experience are desirable traits.

Final answer

So, when it comes to the question of if the Bengals should keep Browning long-term, the answer is yes.

This was his first time starting in the NFL, so his skill set should only grow from here. Obviously, everyone is hoping to see Burrow back and healthy next season, but it's nice to know Cincinnati has a solid backup just in case.