When Packers quarterback Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns against the Lions on Sunday, he created tongue-in-cheek questions about whether Aaron Rodgers is a system quarterback — and very real questions about Flynn’s future.
As explained in this week’s 10-pack, Flynn was the second quarterback taken by the Packers in the “make sure Brett doesn’t try to come back” draft of 2008, a seventh-round throwaway who quickly leapfrogged second-rounder Brian Brohm. Now, with Flynn poised to become an unrestricted free agent, the Packers have to decide whether to let him walk away, or whether to try to secure compensation for him.
There’s only one viable way to make that happen — by slapping the franchise tag on Flynn and then trading him. Though, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, such a strategy technically violates the CBA’s requirements regarding the use of the franchise tender, it has happened before. Most notably, it occurred in 2009, when the Patriots applied to tag to Matt Cassel after he filled in for an injured Tom Brady, starting 15 games and finishing the season opener. New England then traded Cassel, plus linebacker Mike Vrabel, to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.
Besides, it won’t be an issue unless Flynn wants to fight it. And why would he fight a one-year guaranteed salary in the amount of $14.5 million? Flynn would sign the tender immediately, and then he’d wait to see what happens.
The risk for the Packers is that no other team would want to send a first-round pick (and maybe more) to Green Bay for Flynn and also sign Flynn to a long-term deal with that one-year, $14.5 million guaranteed salary as the starting point for negotiations. After all, Flynn has started only two career games; it’s impossible to rule out the possibility that Mike McCarthy has opened an Andy Reid-style quarterback factory in Green Bay, with guys like Flynn playing far better for the Packers than they would perform anywhere else.
If, in the end, no one is willing to trade for Flynn, the Packers would be stuck with a backup quarterback with an eight-figure cap number, who would be making $6.5 million more in base salary than the eventual 2011 NFL MVP.
Some would say it’s a good problem to have. Come February, Packers G.M. Ted Thompson may feel much differently.
Rodney Harrison, Peter King, Russ Thaler, and yours truly talked about Flynn’s status on Monday’s NBC SportsTalk. Those of you enjoying the non-app full version of the site can watch it below.