We used to be in there, now we’re out here
Some have thought the Packers would use the franchise tag in hopes of getting something for Flynn via trade, as the Patriots did with Matt Cassel in 2009, but the Packers reportedly are leaning against using the tag.
There are plenty of reasons:
**The $14.5 million tag value would be $6.5 million more than starting QB Aaron Rodgers is making;
**If Flynn signed the offer, the Packers would be stuck having to pay it if they could not find a trade partner;
**Teams would be unlikely to want to give much in draft picks for a largely untested guy they also would have to pay a big contract;
**The Packers would be better off using that money to fix their horrible defense;
**And, last but not least, the Packers are expected to use the tag on tight end Jermichael Finley anyway.
Since his record-setting start for Green Bay a couple of weeks ago, Flynn has generated plenty of buzz in QB-needy cities like Seattle, Cleveland, Washington and Miami, and the questions will be: Which of those teams will pursue Flynn? And how much will they be willing to pay him?
The going market is about $10 million a year. While Flynn’s inexperience says he is not worth it, his potential says he is. And, with several teams likely to be courting him, that’s probably what it will take to sign him.
Flynn is about to follow in the footsteps of Kevin Kolb, who was considered the NFL’s No. 1 backup before the Eagles traded him to Arizona last year.
Arizona gave Kolb a five-year deal worth $63 million, but $12 million of that is in incentives. It included a $10 million signing bonus, a $7 million bonus due this March and a $2 million roster bonus in 2013. His salaries: $2m, $1m, $9m, $10m, $10m.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, a career backup until the Bills made him their starter this season, signed an extension with Buffalo worth $59 million over the next six seasons. He got $10 million upon signing and is due a $5 million option bonus March 20. His salaries: $2.8m, $4.25m, $4.35m, $7.2m, $8.75m, $9.45m. He also has $3 million roster bonuses in 2013 an 2014.
A reasonable deal for Flynn, who will be 27 in June, would be something like six years, $48 million, with the chance to make up to $60 million based on personal and team performance.
A possible structure:
**A $10 million signing bonus (it probably will take that to lure him), with $2 million salaries the first two years. That’s $14 million over the first two years (Kolb is due $20 million in his first two years, while Seattle is paying Tarvaris Jackson $8 million over two years).
**Add salary escalators for Year 2 and Year 3: Perhaps $500,000 each for 24 TD passes, fewer than 10 interceptions (minimum 400 attempts), 62 completion percentage, a division title and each playoff win. That’s up to $4 million a year.
**Include a big bonus in Year 3, thus giving him two years to prove he can do it. Make it a $5 million roster bonus or a $10 million option bonus that adds two more years.
**Salaries: $2m, $2m, $5m, $8m, $8m, $8m, ($10m, $10m)
**That’s at least $24 million over the first three years, and between $48 million and $61 million over six years. But the Hawks also would be able to get out of it for $14 million over two years. That’s a fair gamble, especially when they easily have the salary-cap room to do it.
Now, if another team is willing to gamble more on Flynn, the Hawks should let him go. He’s only worth so much.
The likely competition:
Cleveland: Mike Holmgren’s and Pat Shurmur’s Browns run the same West Coast offense as the Packers, and Holmgren has generally found his quarterbacks via methods other than the draft. They surely will investigate Flynn (and could afford the terms above), although they also could potentially acquire Kolb (if the Cardinals plan to go in another direction). Kyle Orton could be a cheaper option to compete with Colt McCoy, too. And the Browns might just wait until the draft, where they figure to be in the driver’s seat for Robert Griffin III.
Washington: Mike Shanahan needs a quarterback, and the question is whether he thinks Flynn could be the guy or whether he would prefer to try to get Griffin or settle for Orton or someone else. Daniel Snyder loves to spend money and the Redskins figure to have enough cap space to bid for Flynn, so they have to be considered a strong contender.
Miami: Even if their new coach (whoever it turns out to be) wants Flynn, the Dolphins probably are the fourth horse in this race. They don’t have a lot of cap space and are starting over, which might not be as appealing to Flynn as the more settled coaching situations in Cleveland, Washington and Seattle – all of which run versions of the West Coast offense.
Some people get hung up on Flynn’s seventh-round draft status and the fact that he hasn’t played much. But he has been in the league and has shown well when he has played.
With two excellent starts against playoff teams the past two years, Flynn has a little more experience than Matt Hasselbeck did when the Hawks traded for him in 2001, and it’s easy to project Flynn as the next Hasselbeck: little-used, promising Packer backup who comes to Seattle and has an excellent 10-year career.
We’ll find out by Feb. 24 (possibly as early as Feb. 10) whether the Packers are going to franchise Flynn, and we’ll know March 13 (or very shortly thereafter) which teams are going to pursue him in free agency.
COULD KOLB BE AN OPTION?
It has been suggested that Arizona might cut Kolb rather than pay him the $7 million bonus, especially if Peyton Manning becomes available. But it seems hard to believe that the Cards would cut Kolb just months after trading for him.
It was an unlucky year for Kolb, who had no offseason to learn a new offense; was playing on a subpar unit with a bad line, injured running backs and only one good receiver; and then was sidelined by a sprained toe and a concussion.
The Seahawks would be such a better match for him; they use the same offense he ran in Philly, and they have a quickly improving line and running game to protect him.
If the Cards are stupid enough to cut Kolb, the Hawks probably would be interested in him. They also could probably get him for cheaper than Flynn, because few people view Kolb as being any good right now.
That said, the Cardinals seem unlikely to give up on him so soon.
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