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Alex Smith, Matt Flynn in similar situations

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Last year, both Alex Smith and Matt Flynn hit the open market as unrestricted free agents.  Last year, both Smith and Flynn accepted offers not as valuable as they had expected to receive.

Last year, both entered training camp as the presumptive starting quarterbacks in San Francisco and Seattle.  And while Flynn lost the job to Russell Wilson during training camp, Smith eventually joined Flynn as overpriced clipboard holders after Smith suffered a head injury and Colin Kaepernick left everyone else shaking theirs on a Monday night in November.

Now, both Smith and Flynn are clear-cut backups.  Now, both are scheduled to make dramatically more in 2013 than Kaepernick and Wilson.  Now, their respective teams are considering all options.

The options are simple.  Keep the higher-paid backups at their current salaries.  Keep them at lower rates of pay.  Trade them.  Or cut them.

Last week, 49ers CEO Jed York told PFT that he’d like to keep Kaepernick and Smith.  Seahawks owner Paul Allen can definitely afford to do the same.  And with mobile starters, it makes sense to have competent replacements.

The real questions are whether the lower-paid starters (Kaepernick has at least one more season in that category, and Wilson has at least two) will resent the notion that the guys who aren’t playing are earning millions more to do nothing, and likewise whether the guys earning millions more to do nothing would prefer to be doing more.

In both cases, the outcome could indeed turn on whether trades can be negotiated.  But given that the market for both players was lukewarm a year ago, it’s hard to imagine a land rush breaking out for Smith or Flynn.  Which means that, in the end, the 49ers and the Seahawks will have to decide whether to keep Smith and Flynn, respectively, at a high rate or pay and, possibly, a low willingness to stay.

And chances are that, if one or both teams part ways with their million-dollar understudies, they’ll eventually wish at some point that they still had them around.

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26 Responses to “Alex Smith, Matt Flynn in similar situations”
  1. tjacks7 says: Feb 6, 2013 9:02 AM

    Nothing gets past you guys. Great detective work here, I would have never known.

  2. albertmn says: Feb 6, 2013 9:08 AM

    The slight difference being that at least Smith has played, and played pretty well. Flynn is still an unknown quantity. I would bet the 49ers move Smith and Seattle keeps Flynn.

  3. goraidersgospurs says: Feb 6, 2013 9:09 AM

    Bad news for Geno & Barkley !!

  4. thejohnsmith1122 says: Feb 6, 2013 9:23 AM

    I’m pretty sure there isn’t any resentment at all from Kaepernick or Wilson. Getting the starting gig is all they need. Whether it’s Smith or Flynn, a “decent” backup will demand more than what Kap and Wilson is being paid right now anyways, but they just have to keep doing what they do best. Their big pay day will come by itself.

  5. negativten says: Feb 6, 2013 9:25 AM

    Alex Smith to Arizona for Larry Fitzgerald and a 2nd round pick

  6. jprcox says: Feb 6, 2013 9:27 AM

    I dont agree at all with the thought these guys won’t been sought after. You have 7 teams in this years draft who would otherwise draft a QB – yet it is hard to put 1 QB on the board in the first round, let alone first 10 picks.

    Seriously, if these same QB’s came out last year, they would be 2-3rd rounders at best.

    Look for SF and Seattle to trade their late 1st rounders and QB package for a top 5 pick. Both SF and Seattle need quality – not quantity.

  7. killitandeatit says: Feb 6, 2013 9:31 AM

    Smith is a seasoned starter,first round,first pick. Who is Matt Flynn ? I could be wrong but neither Wilson or C.K. seem to be too worried about $ right now. C.K. is a total star and is lining up endorsements that will dwarf his current journeymen like pay. Teams are lining up to get Smith but Flynn is an unproven commodity. The Niners totally blew last years draft so they need to trade Smith.

  8. lightcleric says: Feb 6, 2013 9:32 AM

    “And with mobile starters, it makes sense to have competent replacements.”

    This is a really good point and it’s part of why I’m not buying into the “mobile quarterback revolutionizing the position” thing for the long term. As great as he is, RGIII go so hurt that may not be the same after only his first year, and you can look at other guys like Mike Vick or even Pat White(who literally got knocked out of the league).

  9. vinceofdarkness says: Feb 6, 2013 9:32 AM

    Smith would look good in a Eagles uniform!

  10. castleofcheese says: Feb 6, 2013 9:35 AM

    I don’t know if it will happen, but as a Packers fan, I would love to see Flynn get his shot as a starter. I imagine one of the two will end up in KC. AZ would also be a good option if they weren’t in the same division.

  11. tannethrill says: Feb 6, 2013 9:35 AM

    I see Flynn getting released and Smith getting traded for a mid-round pick.

  12. packerbackernj says: Feb 6, 2013 9:38 AM

    Come back home, flynn. We told you not to go near uncle pete, hes creepy and weird, just come on home, son.

  13. uwsptke says: Feb 6, 2013 9:52 AM

    “The options are simple. Keep the higher-paid backups at their current salaries. Keep them at lower rates of pay. Trade them. Or cut them.”

    Option 1 will inevitably lead to the “lockerroom schism” talk, so that’s unlikely. Option 2 is even less likely, since these guys want to play. No way do they renegotiate at a lower rate of pay when at least a few teams would thrust them into their starting role. Option 4 seems unlikely, since you want to control their destination if at all possible. The last thing either of these teams want is to see Smith or Flynn under center in Arizona next year. So that leaves the trade scenario.

    I see both situations, moreso with San Francisco, like the Favre situation (without the animosity). You don’t want to see the player in your division. Thompson was only able to delay the inevitable by one year when he traded Favre to the Jets for a conditional pick (3rd round, went to a 2nd round when they made the playoffs – which they used to trade up with New England to draft Clay Matthews, thankyouverymuch – and would have been a 1st had they made the Super Bowl). They put in a “poison pill” clause in the trade that would have forced the Jets to fork over 2 first round picks if they subsequently traded Favre to a NFC North team. Something similar would surely be done if these teams pursue the trade route.

    I just don’t think either will draw more than a mid-round pick given the near-complete lack of leverage by their current teams.

  14. eatitfanboy says: Feb 6, 2013 9:53 AM

    I think these teams should look at their QB situations in total, both on the field and financially, instead of focusing on what one guy is making.

    Both have exciting young starters whose style of play leaves them vulnerable to injury. Both have competent backups that can step in if this happens and win games if needed. Both, when you add the salaries of the starter and backup together, have extremely manageable numbers on their hands.

    Why obsess over one guy’s cap number when the overall number for the position is better than many teams that have worse talent?

  15. randolph32 says: Feb 6, 2013 9:57 AM

    Keeping them is less of a risk than letting them go…

  16. Beezo-Doo-doo-Zippity-Bop-bop-bop says: Feb 6, 2013 9:59 AM

    These mobile QBs won’t last long in the NFL – watch and see.

  17. jprcox says: Feb 6, 2013 10:11 AM

    Everyone who thinks these teams will keep these guys as backups isn’t considering an important aspect – the style of play these guys have doesn’t mesh well with the offensive game planning both Seattle and SF now use.

    It is far better to have a backup like T-Jack or some other QB able to come in and run the same offense. Otherwise you have change your whole offensive game plan mid game, mid season, if your starter goes down??? That is highly disruptive.

  18. trollhammer20 says: Feb 6, 2013 10:17 AM

    I’m sorry, but how on earth could either Kaepernick or Wilson “resent” the fact that their backups are being paid more? Didn’t they sign contracts? And don’t league rules prohibit renegotiating rookie contracts until after the third year is complete?

    Neither player is in a position to do anything about their contract until league rules allow it….except, of course, playing as well as possible, so as to ensure the new contract, when signed, is as big as possible

  19. axespray says: Feb 6, 2013 10:17 AM

    Flynn would probably cost less…
    He’d be a better option than Mark Sanchez…
    Has experience in a west coast offense.
    He’d do alright as a jet …

  20. dolphins4 says: Feb 6, 2013 10:29 AM

    I hope the Chiefs get one of these guys.

  21. ss376 says: Feb 6, 2013 10:55 AM

    I’d trade both. There’s enough teams with major QB problems that both could find starting jobs, especially since this year’s draft class is pretty weak in terms of QBs. Nobody will be beating down the door for either, but Kaepernick and Wilson know how to be mobile without getting blown up (unlike Vick) so its not as if it’s just a matter of time before either is back in the lineup.

  22. mmsierra says: Feb 6, 2013 10:56 AM

    Alex Smith has been a ‘good soldier’ for the 49ers
    Cut him and let Alex make his own decision on where to go

    It would be classless to trade him for a 7th rounder
    Se Alex free

    Go Luck, Alex and thanks for the years of service

  23. oaktown49er says: Feb 6, 2013 12:22 PM

    Everyone points to RG III as the reason Kaep and Wilson wont be able to stay healthy. The difference is RG III needs to learn to slide and get out of bounds. Vick has the same problem. Kaep and Wilson have been good so far at avoiding hits. Even slow pocket QB’s get hurt sometimes but you have to try your best to minimize contact.

  24. electionconfidential says: Feb 6, 2013 12:37 PM

    Interest might have been luke warm a year ago, but things have changed. There isn’t a big QB draft this year and the Jets, Chiefs, Cardinals and others who THOUGHT they had a starting QB now know they don’t. Smith and Flynn are still young and one of the teams that isn’t already going broke on QBs could do worse than give them a try.

  25. jdillydawg says: Feb 6, 2013 2:49 PM

    Awesome. Nothing like quarterback controversy to spice up a season!

    Personally, I think I’d find some good comfort in knowing that although I was benched over someone else, I’m still making millions more.

    “Damn, Kaep/Russ, that hit’s gonna leave a mark! Let me show you my clipboard. It’s gold, by the way. Cool, huh?”

  26. chawk12thman says: Feb 8, 2013 2:32 AM

    Seahawks should not release Flynn, but rather trade for as high a first round draft pick. If no takers, which may be likely, then only trade for a quality player at DE, LB, or WR. If nothing happens, fine. Keep him and you have a quality backup which is needed.

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