Packer Update

Will Flynn stay or will he go?

Flynn could be traded

In separate interviews after the Super Bowl, both general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy dismissed the idea of trading backup quarterback Matt Flynn. They were being honest then, but that doesn’t mean the former LSU star is a lock to be on the roster when the regular season opens (hopefully) in early September. In my opinion, Flynn’s immediate future in Green Bay will be determined in large part by what happens in the upcoming draft. If Thompson selects a quarterback in the first four or five rounds, the odds are pretty good that he’ll at least explore the possibility of making a deal.

Of course, Thompson won’t just give Flynn away. Considering the Packers would likely receive at least a fourth-round pick should the 25-year-old leave as an unrestricted free agent following the 2011 season, it’s going to take significantly higher compensation than that to pry away one of the league’s most promising young backups. Would any team be willing to give up a second-round pick for a player who has attempted only 83 passes (completing 49) in three seasons? That’s obviously impossible for me to know, but my educated guess is yes. And there are a number of reasons to support this opinion.

First, at least a dozen teams are currently in need of a quarterback. And after Auburn’s Cam Newton, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert and maybe Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, which rookie quarterback would you prefer over Flynn? Florida State’s Christian Ponder? TCU’s Andy Dalton? Washington’s Jake Locker? Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi? Personally, I’d take Flynn over all four of those players in a heartbeat. He may not have a lot of experience, but his superb performance on national television against Bill Belichick and Patriots late last season left a lasting impression on me and had to have done the same thing to every GM in the league.

Also, Flynn has been tutored for three years by two of the very best quarterback coaches in the league. That was a big plus even before the Packers won the Super Bowl behind a young quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) groomed by McCarthy and Tom Clements. Now it’s an enormous plus. Other GMs view those two men much the way other GMs looked at Mike Holmgren and Steve Mariucci some 15 years ago. And remember, Ron Wolf was able to use that admiration to flip both Mark Brunell and Aaron Brooks for a tidy little profit.

And finally, any team that doesn’t procure a potential starting quarterback in the draft will be hard-pressed to find one in free agency or via trade. The best quarterback on the market figures to be Kevin Kolb, but he’s going to be very expensive. The Eagles are asking for first and third-round picks and agent Jeff Nalley will be looking for a huge contract. After Kolb, the pickings are awfully slim. Vince Young and Donovan McNabb figure to be available, but would any GM want to stake his future to either of those players?

That’s why I believe at least one team is going to be willing to offer Green Bay a second-round choice for Flynn after the lockout ends. Tennessee makes the most sense. In fact, if the Titans don’t draft a quarterback early, you might start to wonder if the two teams hadn’t already agreed to the parameters of a deal. It’s also important to remember that Tennessee GM Mike Reinfeldt is one of Thompson’s best friends and that the two teams have played in each of the past three preseasons. So Reinfeldt should know Flynn very well.

Why would Thompson be willing to trade away one of the best insurance policies in the entire league? Well, first of all, he’d only consider it if he has a capable replacement on the roster (forget about current No. 3 Graham Harrell). That’s why what happens in the draft is so important. Both Thompson and McCarthy have shown a willingness to go into a season with a rookie backup quarterback. Rodgers was No. 2 behind Brett Favre in ’05 and Flynn held that same role behind Rodgers three years later. The key is finding the right rookie.

Here’s another reason – Thompson watched Wolf trade away young quarterbacks year after year in the 90s. That was the philosophy of the man who taught him everything he knows about building a football team. People often talk about how different the two men are, but in reality, they are very much the same. They both hired offensive-minded head coaches, they both acquired a quarterback of the future within four months of being hired and they both signed a future Hall of Fame defensive player after their first full season on the job.

Would it be risky to trade Flynn? Yes, but it would be no riskier than the Eagles trading Kolb. And while people love to label Thompson as cautious, that’s simply not true. Would a cautious man have hired McCarthy and dumped Favre? Truth is, Thompson might have the biggest pair of cojones of any GM in the league. Trading a backup quarterback is child’s play when compared to hiring a coach nobody ever heard of and discarding a future Hall of Famer coming off his best season. So a trade could definitely happen. And if it doesn’t, then Flynn will be back – not such a bad thing for a team looking to defend its title.

(The draft contest ends at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Hit the link at the top of the page for details.)

13 Comments to "Will Flynn stay or will he go?"

  1. D Howard says:

    Giving up a 2nd round pick for a better prospect then the draft offers is one thing but giving up a 2nd round pick AND dealing with a contract extension for a guy that you won’t have much time to evaluate really complicates the issue for GM’s. If Flynn does well then he might just choose to wait for FA and cash in as the only legit young NFL caliber QB in FA. cha-ching! You gave up a 2nd rounder to rent a guy for a year. If Flynn does poorly you have wasted a 2nd round pick. Most likely, he shows potential but struggles having very little off-season to prepare with his new coaches, system, and team-mates especially if the labor deal doesn’t get done until late summer. That puts the GM is tough spot. Young QB that has potential but you only have had one dis-jointed off-season and season to evaluate him. Do you extend him during the season with Flynn holding all the negotiating power? Do you wait until after the season and compete with all the other teams? Not ideal. If Flynn has two years left on his deal it would be a much easier decision for GM’s.

  2. Michael Rodney says:

    You make a lot of good points. No question the lockout complicates things, but I still think a team in need of a quarterback after the draft might be willing to roll the dice.

  3. Jeff says:

    I agree with your post Michael. I’ve seen a few comments by Munchak suggesting a trade for a veteran QB would be preferred over grooming a rookie. I’d love Flynn for that 2nd but I get the feeling Gabbert may be slipping and Tennessee would nab him in a heartbeat at 8. We’ll see.

  4. Bryan Jensen says:

    Is Flynn going to be a restricted or unrestricted FA after next season?

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Assuming the new CBA includes the same free agency rules as before, Flynn will be unrestricted after next season.

  5. Archie says:

    Brunell and Brooks were traded for D3 picks, correct? Maybe one was only a D4. Either way, kind of hard to believe we could get more for Flynn than for those two. But you right, if they are going to get a D4 as compensation, the minimum asking price has to be D3. Throw in a little desperation and somebody forks over a D2.

    • Michael Rodney says:

      Why is it hard to believe the Packers could get more for Flynn? Brooks didn’t throw a pass in his one season with the Packers and Brunell threw only 27 in his two seasons. Both were traded for a 3. There’s a lot more tape on Flynn – including his terrific effort on the road against the Patriots.

  6. Dave says:

    Love to see TT trade Flynn to Seatle for a switch of picks in round 1 and 2 and Seatle’s 4th.

    The 25th pick will provide more leverage in a trade down (2+3?) and put the Packers ahead of other teams that might be wanting to trade down to QB hungry teams.

  7. Bryan Jensen says:

    Dave,

    Assuming no CBA gets hammered out in the next 72 hours, teams can trade players.

  8. Jeff says:

    Bryan, I think you meant to say teams can’t trade players. That’s what makes me think they won’t deal him in August unless they pick a guy like Stanzi in the 3rd which is unlikely.

  9. Archie says:

    Because it was obvious both Brunell and Brooks were starter quality QBs. They had big play ability. It’s not such a given with Flynn. Sure he looked good against a weak Pats defense on a night when teh Pats probably let down knowing that Rodgers was out but teams would have to see more than that to be sure he was starter quality.

  10. Bryan Jensen says:

    Jeff,

    Yes, thank you, I meant “can’t.” Although, with todays ruling and without a ruling by the 8th Circuit on the owner’s stay pending appeal before Thursday night, I would say that teams can trade players because the NFL will have to operate under the terms of the CBA from last year.

  11. Greg says:

    Good article, Michael. As always, I enjoy reading your material. I’d have to disagree with the notion of trading Flynn, though. He’s much too good a backup to trade. If it’s a 2nd round pick for him, it better be way up there on the board. My scenario has him staying, and the Packers drafting someone good enough to compete for the backup spot. It’s quite possible the team will trade the 1st rounder to someone willing to move up at the end of the first and grab one of the remaining quality QB’s this year. There’s the 2nd round pick everyone seems to be searching for. We trade down into the 2nd, add another 2nd or 1st next year, and call it good. I like Flynn. We need to keep him around, if we can. I’m somewhat concerned with Aaron’s concussions, and keeping a QB who can lead the team off the bench is worth the risk of losing him next year to free agency.

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