"How much do you want me Pete? Oh baby. Enough to give up a first rounder?"
There is a lot of reason to believe that the Seahawks will be in on Matt Flynn somehow this offseason. He was drafted while Seahawks general manager John Schneider was in Green Bay, and the Seahawks are badly in need of an upgrade at quarterback. Evaluating Flynn is a fairly convoluted process, no doubt. Flynn has started just two games in his career, and has thrown only 132 passes. The two major catalysts to the hype that surrounds him came in late seasons games against the Patriots is 2010, and the Lions in 2011.
The New England game lit the kindling in the hype fire that has caused speculation that Flynn would be a starter somewhere next year, but his 480 yard, six touchdown performance against the Lions turned that camp fire into a bon fire. You can find my opinion of Flynn the quarterback here, but there is another important element to the Flynn equation: Through what means will Flynn be available?
There are essentially two options: The Packers let Matt Flynn become a free agent, hoping that through the proprietarily secretive system of evaluation the NFL will award them a high compensation pick in this year’s draft, or they Franchise Tag Flynn and attempt to trade him for something of value.
It may not be initially apparent how infrequently highly-coveted players, let alone highly-coveted quarterbacks hit actual free agency, but let’s take a look at the most recent significant quarterback signings from the free agent market:
Matt Hasselbeck signs with Tennessee for three years, $21 million
Seneca Wallace re-signs with the Cleveland Browns for three years, $9 million
Kurt Warner re-signs with Arizona for two years, $23 million
Derek Anderson re-signs with Cleveland for three years, $24 million
Noteworthy is that three of the four quarterbacks returned to the team that they would potentially be leaving, and Warner and Hasselbeck, the most nomadic of these quarterbacks, were both well into their 30s. So was Brett Favre, but for the purposes of this article I don’t see a lot of relevance in including Favre.
Really, you have to go all the way back to Drew Brees to find a true long-term success story signing a significant quarterback in free agency. Even that year, while I wasn’t personally excited about Daunte Culpepper, I felt he was a lesser risk because his injuries weren’t in his shoulders, which is an area with a very tough success rate for rehabilitation.
So how do quarterbacks end up moving around? They get traded. They get franchised and traded, or extended and traded, or are traded before the end of their contract.
The most recent example of a player being franchised and traded in the same often, as it relates to this, is Matt Cassel. Cassel played almost a full season after Tom Brady tore his ACL. He hadn’t started a game since high school, and performed pretty well in an offense that was unique at the time, and designed to mask the flaws of a quarterback without elite arm talent. Even though the market for Cassel was limited to basically Kansas City, which had just hired former Patriots VP of player personnel Scott Pioli, and Denver, who had just hired former Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. Both teams ran spread offenses, and Cassel fit them well. The Patriots got a second rounder for Mike Vrabel and Cassel.
And that’s the rub. There has never been a franchise player less desired by other teams, by my estimation, yet the Patriots were able to put together a package that included extra parts and Cassel, and were able to acquire a pick they’d use on safety Patrick Chung.
So considering that Flynn is widely viewed as a better player than Cassel, has a recent elite performance under his belt, and plays in a base offense that is used in some regard in almost all NFL schemes, why wouldn’t the Packers franchise Flynn?
Think the players’ association will attempt to block the tag? Yeah right. Flynn signing a long term deal (which he’s sure to if a team is trading a lot for him) is better for the player’s association.
Think the Packers won’t pay for a guy they don’t plan on being their starter? What about Derek Anderson? What about Cassel?
Not to mention, I have a possible 11 teams that could change their starting quarterback this offseason. Probably at least two of those will be rookies (Luck and Griffin). After that it is Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, and some of the other ugly options available in our QB candidate series.
Sure, maybe Flynn isn’t as good as Aaron Rodgers, but the demand determines value, and demand for Flynn figures to be high. This is a quarterback driven league, and right now every have-not is sitting at home watching the haves in the postseason.
The only chance that the Seahawks have to have a free shot at Flynn is if the Packers cannot come to terms with Jermichael Finley and decide to franchise the tight end. It’s not unheard of to franchise tag a tight end, it has happened four times since 2008. One could also make a pretty good argument that Finley is worth more to the Packers than the potential compensation they may receiver for Flynn. So any Seahawks fans rooting for a reasonable contract with Flynn should be rooting against a Finley contract.
The franchise tag will be around $17 million next year, and even though Flynn will receive that tag, there’s not a chance he earns one dollar under such a deal. Flynn may be a Seahawk next year, but Tarvaris Jackson has a better chance of making the Pro Bowl than the Seahawks do to acquire Flynn cheap. If the team signs Flynn they’ll have to fight through some other suitors to get to him, and if they get him, it’s safe to assume that his success will be directly tied to the future employment status of both Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and Flynn will be the “quarterback of the future.”
Do you want Matt Flynn even with the price tag associated with the franchise tag?