With the 2011 season (hopefully) approaching, let us imagine a hypothetical situation that the Packers could find themselves in:
- Matt Flynn gets traded: Matt Flynn turned some heads last season when he made the quarterback transition look easy with Aaron Rodgers sidelined for the Patriots game. It would be foolish to think that other teams aren’t interested in him and former general manager Ron Wolf was fond of saying it was better to trade a player a year early than a year late (and current general manager Ted Thompson is a Wolf protégé). It only takes one team to see Flynn as the next Matt Hasselbeck to make an offer that the Packers can’t refuse. As a point of comparison Hasselbeck was essentially traded away for the 1st pick of the 2nd round; would the Packers take Flynn for a 2nd round draft pick? Definitely.
- The Packers then stick with Aaron Rodgers and Graham Harrell: The Packers always think of development first and they haven’t brought in a veteran backup quarterback since Rodgers became the starter. They risked having no depth at quarterback in Matt Flynn’s rookie year and got away with it and might be inclined to do the same this year. With 10 new rookies and a slew of players coming off IR, roster slots are going to be very precious and the 3rd quarterback might be one spot that gets eliminated. A lot of this will come down to Graham Harrell, but if his development is where Flynn’s was when he was a rookie, then past history proves that the Packers are willing to make that gamble.
- Midseason, Aaron Rodgers gets hurt: Heaven forbid, but Rodgers has already suffered 2 concussions and from a medical perspective, having a concussion increases the chance of having another. Rodgers has also battled various injuries during his time with the Packers and mobile quarterbacks like Rodgers do have a higher risk of getting seriously hurt (see Michael Vick). It’s not unconceivable that Rodgers could miss a game or two (or a season) due to his play style and injury history.
If this series of events were to unfold for the Packers next year, what should they do?
The Packers should call Brett Favre.
Now before someone brings out the tar and feathers, examine my logic:
- The free agent quarterback pool is going to be sparse: There simply are not 32 decent quarterbacks in this league so in the middle of the season, the majority of viable (and even some not so viable quarterbacks, see Brian Brohm) are going to be signed with other teams.
- Trading for a quarterback midseason is a train wreck waiting to happen: the new quarterback will have zero experience with the Packers offense and personnel and will have no time to get ready before having to play.
- Favre is unlikely to find a spot on a roster at the beginning of the season: As Zach Kruse has written, Favre will have options but with caveats. He still sees himself as a starting caliber quarterback and won’t sign with a team with an established starter already (nor would a team with an established starter want to sign Favre). He also doesn’t have the time to wait for a bad team to develop. Since those two criteria usually go hand in hand (as having a quarterback opening usually means having a bad team as well), Favre’s options are going to be very limited if not non-existent.
- Favre has familiarity with the offense and personnel and the Packers are familiar with Favre: The Packers need someone who they can insert right away and Favre likes to play with people he knows. Playing for Mike McCarthy, Joe Philbin, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Ryan Grant and Chad Clifton is the optimal situation for both Favre and the team.
- Favre has proven that he needs very little practice to play decent football: He’s regularly skipped the majority of the offseason during the later part of his career with the Packers and with the Vikings while still being able to manage the offense.
- Deep down, Favre probably wants to mend fences with the Packers: His comments leading up the Super Bowl show that he’s beginning to accept the fact that the Packers were a great team without him. The Packers have already stated that they intend to give him the respect that he deserves once he finally decides to retire. Both side appear to want to end their relationship on a good note
This situation has essentially happened before. In 2009, the Packers decided to part ways with long time starting right tackle Mark Tauscher in favor of Allen Barbre. Come mid-season it was obviously apparent (like 51 Aaron Rodgers sacks apparent) that Barbe was a terrible tackle and the best option left in the free agent pool for the Packers was Mark Tauscher. There were probably younger tackles in the free agent pool with more upside, but come the midseason, experience and familiarity trump that.
For the record, I’m not saying that Favre is a great quarterback or even a good quarterback at this point; he is however is probably the best option for the Packers should events unfold the way I’ve postulated. To put it another way, who would you prefer under center, Brett Favre, Todd Collins (another likely mid-season free agent quarterback), or Graham Harrell? I understand that many fans and probably a lot of the players were hurt by Favre’s blatant defection to the Vikings, but if you consider which free agent has the highest chance of being successful with the Packers should they need a emergency journeyman quarterback, the Favre’s name has to be on the short list. It’s not going to be the popular choice (as I expect to see a million comments calling me an idiot for even considering the idea), but it probably will give the Packers the best shot at winning without Rodgers.
Simply put, Favre’s value at this point lies highest with the Packers and the Packers are a team that Favre would want to play for this year. Personally, getting to see Favre don the green and gold one more time, and then giving Favre one more chance to say goodbye the right way would be a perfect way to end the #4 era.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.