ake Browning's success is surprising. Only five years brought him here.
A specific type of borderline NFL quarterback has a career path. These cats were the finest their hometown had to offer, and they became university legends. They'll manage a successful insurance firm or auto dealership in their college town after one last NFL try.
Backups usually wear baseball caps and observe from the sideline for a season or two. They will receive a mop-up series or injury replacement start and tell their golf mates about Aaron Donald sacking them or Jalen Ramsey intercepting them for life. It's a decent way to end a football career.
Jake Browning looked dedicated to this course. He was a Folsom, California high school star who tossed a record 91 touchdowns his senior year and 229 in his career. He played well at Washington. The 2016 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year (RIP), he signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and spent most of his two years on the practice squad.
Browning contemplated his career ending in a touching Instagram post after Minnesota fired him in September 2021. “So now what?” he wrote. My current aim is to get a volunteer coaching position and keep in shape in case I receive a tryout call. I don't want to allow the potential of a comeback stop me from embracing my life."
A few days later, Cincinnati saved Browning by adding him to another practice squad. Preseason play brought him onto the active roster.
Browning played in a regular-season NFL game this year after four years off. He threw an incomplete pass, handed off twice, then kneeled to conclude Cincinnati's season-opening 24-3 loss to Cleveland in garbage time. Browning's 2023 production would have ended if Joe Burrow was healthy.
After Burrow's season-ending wrist injury, Browning's career took off. He has been one of the league's hottest quarterbacks since losing his first start against Pittsburgh in late November.