Published on February 21st, 2013 | by Ryan Bozeman0
Matt Flynn: Keep Him? Trade Him? Implications and Possible Landing Spots
Coming into last season, Matt Flynn was widely regarded as the hot pickup on the QB free agent list. He had sat for four years behind Aaron Rodgers, coming into the Packers organization just as Favre passed the helm. In his limited action, which consisted of 132 attempted passes over the course of those four years, Flynn looked solid. With little proof of his ability to be a starting quarterback, most of the interest in Flynn was fueled by his record tying six touchdown performance when filling in for Aaron Rodgers in 2011.
Luckily, there was enough tape on Flynn to thoroughly scout him, and teams were relatively weary of overpaying for backups that performed well on good teams after the Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel experiments. Most scouts had Flynn pegged as a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL. He wasn’t very mobile, and didn’t have a cannon arm, but he was smart. Most comparisons said that he had the potential to look like Matt Hasselbeck in his prime, which, all things considered, is a pretty damn good pickup in free agency. You weren’t getting the next Aaron Rodgers in signing him, but you might be getting a quarterback capable of taking you deep into the playoffs and playing mistake free.
The interest in Flynn was fairly high, even with slight doubts about him as a franchise option. In the end, it was the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins who were showing the most interest in Flynn. Things got pretty competitive, and during the process there were rumors that Pete Carrol had intentionally “run into” the Dolphins GM having a sit down dinner with Flynn in Miami, and hilariously invited himself into the meeting, having a seat at the table.
In the end, it was the Seahawks who were able to land him on a 3 year / $19,500,000 contract. Dolphins fans were upset at the time, but the Dolphins went on to draft Tannehill and the Seahawks went on to draft Russel Wilson, leaving Flynn relegated to his backup role for the fifth straight season.
One thing is certain – Flynn’s value is not anywhere near where it was a season ago. Flynn’s reputation took a big hit initially when the Seahawks announced that they were going to be starting Wilson, a rookie, over their highly paid free agent acquisition. Of course, as time went on it became much more apparent why the decision was made, so perhaps the implications of that decision are not as damaging as they were at the beginning of the year.
But the fact remains that Flynn is owed Nearly $16 million over the course of the next two years. Those are potential franchise QB numbers that a team would have to be willing to take on in order to trade for him. Essentially, part of the package the Seahawks would receive in trading Flynn is the additional capspace that they would be able to free up.
You might hear Seahawks fans occasionally predict a 2nd round pick for Flynn, or sometimes even a 3rd round pick and a role player. I tend to think that these types of scenarios overrate the interest in Flynn by quite a bit. Teams that may have been interested in his services in recent years such as the Dolphins, Vikings, and Redskins were able to address their needs at the position through the draft, and are no longer going to be interested.
The market is meager. Also, there are numerous options on the market that are similar to Flynn. Alex Smith is sure to find some interest from a variety of teams this offseason. The 49ers are in a similar position as the Seahawks, having an “older, but still kinda young,” quarterback available, and a big cap hit connected to him. It would seem to me that any team that would be interested in Flynn would probably also be interested in exploring Alex Smith as a potential option as well. Their skillsets are similar. Both have big cap hits attached to them. Smith is one year older than Flynn, and has a lot more starting experience.
The only teams that I could see being interested in trading for Flynn would be the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and New York Jets. The one thread that all of them have in common? They are all in the process of rebuilding. None of them is a quarterback away from being legitimately competitive and as a result they aren’t willing to bet the house on a quarterback that has only seen action in a handful of games throughout his career.
With his value diminished, and the market for franchise QB’s looking thin, the Seahawks could potentially choose to keep Matt Flynn. There are multiple reasons why keeping him might be favorable to letting him go;
- No Viable Backups – If the Seahawks were to trade Matt Flynn, they really don’t have a viable backup option for the number 2 QB. They traded Tavaris Jackson last year, and Jackson is getting a legitimate shot to compete for the starting job in Buffalo this year. If Flynn went, the team would have to look into picking up a veteran free agent that they would trust.
- Banking on a Better Market Next Year – The NFL can be unpredictable, and next year the market for Flynn could be better than this year. It’s a bit unlikely, since he will be a year older and still without much starting experience.
- His Cap Hit Isn’t As Relevant As You Think – Yeah, Flynn’s cap hit is pretty big for a backup. But, the Seahawks have a lot of cap room, and even with the need to resign some of our draft picks, his contract ends after two more seasons, which is precisely when the Seahawks are going to run into most of their cap problems.
The reasoning for trading Flynn is obvious and well documented. He simply is getting paid too much to at least not see what is out there as far as offers go. The Seahawks have already said that they are interested in moving him, and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Seahawks take a lesser offer just to dump the contract.
- Cap Space – Flynn’s cap hit is nearly $16 million over the course of the next two years. That’s potentially two great additions on either side of the ball, or four solid roleplayers. It would free up a lot of room for resigning young players in the future as well.
- Overrated – Maybe the Seahawks know something other teams don’t. They’ve had plenty of time to evaluate his skillset, and obviously concluded that he was not going to be their franchise QB moving forward. Wilson might be a special case, but most teams would feel like getting rid of an overpaid veteran who lost his job to a rookie in any way possible would be a smart decision.
- Bring In a Better Fill-In Role Wise – If Russel Wilson were to go down with an injury (oh god no), Matt Flynn isn’t exactly the type of quarterback that you could easily plug right in and expect him to carry the same offense. The offenses would look a lot different under Flynn and Wilson, and there are going to be some backups available who might be more streamlined for the Seahawks offense.
Potential Landing Spots
The market for Flynn is even less than the Seahawks expected. The Eagles, who were expected to be at least interested in Flynn, appear to be content with Vick and Dixon competing for the starting job. A lot of teams have had their Rookie QB draft picks turn out recently, too. There are only a few teams that would be interested, and with other QB’s available, the options are getting crowded.
The Jaguars seem like an obvious choice. However, they have been strangely high on Blaine Gabbert this offseason. Don’t be surprised if they go against the grain and give him one more year to turn out. He is still extremely young at 23 years old, and they knew that he was incredibly raw coming out of college. Jacksonville may be interested in bringing in another QB as competition, but there is no guarantee that they will want to take on Flynn’s salary.
The Brown’s are an organization reborn. There is no guarantee that Brandon Weeden will even be on the team next year, and it was silly of them to pick a quarterback so old, so high in the draft to begin with. The Browns are one of the most likely landing spots for Flynn.
Kansas City Chiefs
The problem with the Chiefs is that while they seem like the perfect candidate for Flynn, it really is completely up to Andy Reid. If he is less than impressed with the skills that Flynn brings to the table, they aren’t going to be willing to take on his contract. If he likes Flynn, they are a completely viable trading partner. Another hoop is that the Chiefs have the first pick in the draft. While there are no QB’s necessarily worth drafting with the first overall pick, don’t be surprised to see them attempt to trade down in order to pick up more draft picks, and then grabbing a Reid protege farther back in the first or second round.
New York Jets
The Jets are hobbled. They’ll probably release Tebow, since I’d imagine that they do not want to pay him. Sanchez looks like a broken manchild out there. They just don’t have a QB, which makes them an excellent target for the Seahawks. This, plus the fact that Rex Ryan is running out of time means that he will probably be interested in making some big moves in order to save his job. Bringing in a guy like Flynn would allow them to do what they have always wished Sanchez could have done; play smart. Flynn could plug perfectly into their system and have success from day one. Although, the Jets seem to be preparing to go into rebuilding mode with the Revis trade talks on the table, so they are up in the air as well.
The one limiting factor with the Arizona Cardinals is that they are in the same division as the Seahawks, and would essentially have to overpay to get him. Luckily, the same can be said for obtaining Alex Smith. The Cardinals would be a perfect option. They absolutely can not go through another season like they did last year, playing duck, duck, goose with their three quarterbacks. Larry Fitzgerald may even start requesting a trade if they aren’t able to give him a decent quarterback to the deliver the ball.