Too Much is Being Made of the Correlation Between the Alex Smith Trade and Matt Flynn’s Value

Among a list of expected tasks for the Seahawks, at least as it relates to fan interest is the future of their backup quarterback Matt Flynn. Last offseason started with “Flynnsanity” and much of the beginning of the season carried a “Flynn Vs. Russell Wilson” narrative, but Wilson won out, and Flynn is now superfluous.

That’s not to say of course, that the Seahawks are locked into getting Flynn off their roster. If they cut him today they’d stand to save about $1.25 million, and as I pointed out earlier in this offseason, finding an alternative, adequate backup for Wilson is going to cost more than that. So basically, the Seahawks will not save any money by cutting or trading Flynn and signing a veteran backup, but rather would have to offset the value of their lost cap room, likely in the range of $500,000 to $2 million, with draft pick compensation.

We just saw the San Francisco 49ers trade Alex Smith to Kansas City for what appears to be a pick at the top of the second round and future pick of similar value. That’s a pretty big haul for a guy that spent over half a decade being considered one of the biggest busts in draft history. Smith found some sort of harmony under Jim Harbaugh, and went from a really bad quarterback to a quarterback that was pretty good at not fucking everything up.

The move is kind of curious for a Kansas City team that has been down this road many times—the team hasn’t drafted a quarterback in the second round or higher since 1992, and hasn’t had a quarterback they drafted lead them in passing since 1980 when Steve Fuller led the team to an 8-8 record. So by curious, I mean a part of an extended, repeated display of stupidity. Not unpredictable, but perhaps the most disturbing, extended display of ineptitude since the late—and I’d say great but he stopped being great long before he was “the late”—Al Davis learned to use Microsoft Excel and how to sort his big board by 40 times.

It’s mildly interesting to me also that Andy Reid, the Chiefs new head coach, didn’t ride the offseason out a little longer to see if his former disciple Kevin Kolb would become available. Kolb has fallen out of favor in Arizona, who also have a new head coach, and had some success under read. That could just be further vindication for Seahawks fans who thought that Kevin Kolb would have been a silly investment for the Seahawks.

But Alex Smith. He’s not very good, and I think that many people think that Matt Flynn could be better if given the opportunity to start. Smith is a known commodity, though, and Reid may feel that his team is good enough to win right now with Smith on board. In the mean time, he can draft a quarterback and groom him. I think the value of playing sitting under a veteran is oft-overstated, but the value of holding a clipboard and adjusting to the speed of the NFL may not be. Born from the concussed loins of Alex Smith this year was Colin Kaepernick, but by that rationale Tommy Maddox crapped out Ben Roethlisberger. So whatever.

Depending on whom you ask this trade either set the market for Matt Flynn or destroyed it. There’s logic on both sides, but there was very little doubt that Alex Smith would be on the move this offseason, and very little doubt that Alex Smith would be valued higher than Flynn. If this had some dramatic effect on Flynn’s market then it may as well be considered predetermined, because Smith moving before Flynn was as inevitable as Peyton Manning signing before Flynn last offseason (and we saw how Manning “set the market” for Flynn, who signed a contract well below early predictions).

The truth is that Alex Smith being traded probably has no effect on Flynn, who was bound to be almost-every-team-looking-for-a-veteran–quarterback’s second choice. The 49ers receiving a good haul for Smith has little to no effect on the Flynn market.

And considering the impact of a Flynn trade has a significant impact on present-day talent, it’s a lot closer to an even-odds proposition than some may think as far as whether or not trading him is the right move at all.

What could be the lasting impact of this move from the Seahawks perspective, though, is that there are rumors that the 49ers are going to package some of their 15 draft picks and trade for Darrelle Revis.

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where that doesn’t make the 49ers immediately better. Revis is considered one of the top corners in the league despite coming off a torn ACL. And he’ll be asking for money commensurate with his reputation, by all reports. Trading for Revis and signing him to a long term deal with years of guarantee implications could prevent the 49ers from signing guys like Kaepernick and Aldon Smith to long term extensions, which would significantly shrink the team’s championship window without some major adjustments.

The Seahawks may trade Matt Flynn, and they may not trade Matt Flynn, and either way it will probably be the right decision. And it has almost nothing to do with Alex Smith.