A fun talker has emerged during this week off: would Ted Thompson consider placing the franchise tag on Matt Flynn? It would be audacious. It would be daring. Have we ever used either of these adjectives to describe the Packers’ general manager? I think not, which leads me to conclude that it won’t happen–as intriguing as it may sound.
It goes something like this: the Pack places the tag on Flynn, guaranteeing him $14.5 million next season, no matter what uniform he’s wearing. That’s the average of the top five QBs in the league. Let’s stop right here for a moment and consider this.
Obviously, Thompson would have to have a trade partner in place before he does this. The possibility that no one offers him what he wants and the team enters next season with both Rodgers and Flynn is absurd. #10 would make some six million more than #12. You’d have a whacked out salary cap situation, with $23 million going to QBs, meaning you can’t sign the guys you might want to, like Wells and Finley, among others.
No, there would have to be a wink wink deal in place. Technically, NFL rules say you can’t tag a guy and then trade him. But since Bill Belichick and the Patriots did it a few years ago with Matt Cassell, the precedent was set.
But what could the Pack expect to get for Flynn? A number one? Maybe. A one and a three, as some talking heads have predicted? Wow, that would be enticing to anyone. If Flynn does leave via free agency, Green Bay would probably be given the highest compensatory pick allowed, a third round pick at the bottom of that round.
Another thing to remember: if you tag Matt Flynn, you can’t tag Jermichael Finley. As maddening as the guy can be on and off the field, slapping the tight end tag on him does not hurt you capwise, and ensures he will be playing for the monster contract next season (of course he wants to be tagged as a wide receiver, rather than a tight end, so this one could get a little ugly).
So you have two choices: let him walk for a compensatory pick or tag him and see if QB-needy teams like Seattle, Miami, Washington or Cleveland decide they’d rather overpay an unproven, yet polished and well-coached fourth-year guy, rather than start over with a rookie.
Ultimately, that’s what this whole thing boils down to. If you’re a team like the Seahawks or Redskins, are you willing to pay Matt Flynn $14 million to play quarterback next season, based on two career starts? If Flynn is a free agent, his asking price is way below that. I would think those teams would rather take a chance at wooing him on the open market, rather than overpay him and give up prized draft picks to the Packers. Plus, teams have to look at Flynn and what he did and ask whether they can expect anything close to that level of play from him with their own offenses.
My hunch is that Flynn leaves as an unrestricted free agent–I just can’t see a team forking over that kind of dough for a guy with two career starts. You’re putting your career on the line with a call like that. He is in the business of drafting players and letting his coaches develop them.
After four years in the Packer system, Matt Flynn has earned the opportunity to start somewhere else. Thompson will let him go, and then he’ll do what he does every offseason: find a new crop of young players to replace the ones who move on. Not very audacious, but it seems to work rather well.