Matt Flynn came to Seattle for a chance to start.
That chance, however, never materialized. Not in training camp as Russell Wilson improved throughout August and won the job after three exhibition games. Not in October when Wilson showed an ability to correct his third-down passing struggles during that Week 5 win in Carolina. That game — when Wilson’s status as the starter was most tenuous — proved to be a turning point for Seattle’s rookie. He never looked back.
So what happens now with Wilson established as Seattle’s starter going forward, and Flynn’s only opportunity figuring to come by way of injury? Flynn’s future is going to become one of the more intriguing questions facing Seattle over the next few months.
On the one hand, Seattle has a player who would rank among the league’s very best backup quarteracks under contract for next season. That’s not an insignificant asset considering how often Wilson was used as a runner over the second half of the season.
On the other hand, Flynn has a contract that calls for him to make $5.25 million in base salary in 2013. That’s not a bank-breaking total, especially since Wilson is on a rookie contract and will make $526,217 in base salary, but it would be an unorthodox salary structure to say the least to have the backup making so much more than the starter.
There’s also the question of whether Flynn would be the best backup for Seattle. After all, the offense became increasingly tailored to Wilson’s specific skill set as the season progressed, and coach Pete Carroll said after the season that there had been some thought given to the idea of acquiring a backup quarterback capable of running some of the option plays that were so effective for Wilson.
Seattle’s willingness to keep Flynn is only part of the equation, though. There’s also the question of demand. Does another team see Flynn as an intriguing enough player to not only acquire his contract, but give up a pick for the right to do so?
We’re going to spend the next few months trying to find out, and that’s going to require seeing through the bluffs and posturing that’s an unavoidable part of the NFL offseason.
No team wants to trade more than it has to in order to get a player that Seattle might discard while the Seahawks don’t want to give up an asset that someone else would value.
So let the gamesmanship begin, starting with a Tweet from one of the NFL’s top national reporters, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, who is in Mobile, Ala., attending the Senior Bowl.
“While Seattle has told QB Matt Flynn they are willing to trade him, finding trade partner is problematic because several expect he’ll be cut.”
– Yahoo! Sports Jason Cole: Trouble with trading Matt Flynn
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was a little more critical. He doubted the very idea that there is a market for Flynn’s services during his appearance Wednesday on ESPN Radio with Mike and Mike.
“I don’t understand this great interest in Matt Flynn. Because all we have to do is go back to last offseason, when any team out there could have signed Matt Flynn gratis with no compensation to anybody, OK? So what happened was he was out there as a free agent and the only two teams that showed any interest, were the Miami Dolphins – where his former offensive coordinator in Joe Philbin opted not to sign him in Miami – and Seattle, which went ahead and signed him and gave him a good backup quarterback contract. Low-caliber starting, high back-up quarterback contract.
“So there really was never any great faith or confidence around the league in Matt Flynn that he would be some kind of great starting quarterback. The problem is that there are not a lot of quality starting quarterbacks available this offseason.”
And there’s the rub. Because there are not a lot of options for team’s looking for a starting quarterback. Peyton Manning is not on the market like he was a year ago. The first two picks in the draft won’t be quarterbacks as they were in 2012 when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were picked first and second overall.
Will that lack of viable alternatives lead a team to decide — as Seattle did a year ago — that Flynn is someone who could come in and serve as the starter?
Schefter didn’t think so.
“When did Matt Flynn become the answer for anybody, and that’s not a shot at him.”
Sorry, Adam. Yes that is a shot at Flynn. But anyway. Continue.
“I’d want him on my team as a nice back-up, as a guy who could step in and do exactly what he did in Green Bay. But he’s not going to be the savior for some team at the quarterback position. That’s just not who he is.”
It’s an issue that’s not going to be answered this week or this month. But it’s something to keep following, and on Thursday morning, we’ll have a list of possible destinations for Flynn posted here on the blog.