It was to good to last… Now the rest of the world knows that without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers wouldn’t just have a chance, they probably wouldn’t miss a beat. With a 480-yard, 6 touchdown performance against the Lions yesterday, which are both Packer team records, Matt Flynn has perhaps become the most sought out free agent acquisition in the upcoming offseason.
Now comes the question of what general manager Ted Thompson should do with Matt Flynn; I think it should be apparent to everyone that Flynn has no place on the Packers 2012 roster, Aaron Rodgers is “the guy”, Flynn’s far too good to be a backup and it would be salary cap and team chemistry suicide to have both Flynn and Rodgers on the roster next season. So should Thompson let Flynn walk with his best wishes or should he use the franchise tag on Flynn and hope to get something in return?
For using the Franchise Tag
- Quarterback is the most important position in football: There no way to hide a quarterback, either you have a star or you need one. And there definitely aren’t 32 starting-caliber quarterbacks in the league.
- Franchise tag numbers will be lower than previous years: With the new CBA, franchise tags will be calculated differently then they were in the past. While under the previous CBA, tag numbers were calculated as the average top 5 salaries at the position the previous year or 120% of the player’s previous salary (which ever was highest). The current CBA dictates that tag numbers will now be calculated as the average of the top salary at the position over the last 5 years. This should reduce the franchise tag numbers for a quarterback from somewhere in the $16 million mark to something around $14 million (which is reportedly how much it will cost the Saints to use the tag on Drew Brees) Also, the first thing that teams will want to do with Flynn is restructure his deal should be arrive via franchise tag-trade (a la Matt Cassel) to a long term contract, which would significantly reduce the cap number of Flynn’s contract.
- Lack of star college quarterbacks entering the draft: At present, Standford quarterback Andrew Luck is probably as good as gone since the Colts have “locked up” the 1st overall pick in the 2012 draft. Add on top of that USC quarterback Matt Barkley has decided to stay in college for another season, which leaves only one other consensus 1st round quarterback in Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. There are definitely more than 2 teams in desperate need of a quarterback with the Colts, Redskins, Dolphins and Seahawks seriously considering drafting one while the Vikings, Browns and Cardinals could definitely decide to go in that direction as well. Whoever fails to draft up RGIII could look to add Flynn as a consolidation prize.
- Gives the Packers some control over where Flynn ends up: Obviously the Packers don’t want to see Flynn twice a season on the other side and the Franchise Tag would give the Packers some control over where Flynn goes. It would seem highly unlikely that the Bears or the Lions would try to trade for Flynn considering how much they are paying Jay Cutler and Matt Stafford respectively, but the Vikings do have a propensity to sign NFC North players, and they don’t have all that much invested in Christian Ponder at the moment.
Against using the Franchise Tag
- Only 1 Franchise Tag available per off-season: Perhaps the biggest implications with this is that there is a significant chance that Jermichael Finley could leave via free agency should Flynn get the Franchise Tag. Finley has made it apparent that he wants to be paid as one of the top tight ends in the league, but hasn’t warranted such a contract with his production this season. Finley has also been quoted in saying that he wouldn’t mind being placed on the franchise tag this offseason, which to me signifies that he realizes that his value has dipped due to his lack of production this year and he’s willing to bet that giving a discount this year will result in a bigger contract next year (when theoretically he gets out of whatever slump he’s in) I’m not entirely convinced that Finley would take a long term deal that isn’t one of the top 5 contracts for tight ends at the end of the season.
- Lack of potential suitors: Should the Packers find no suitors for Flynn, they would have on their hands a huge quarterback controversy, where the backup is making more money than the starter (who also happens to be the reigning Super Bowl MVP and likely MVP this year). Matt Cassel and outside linebacker Mike Vrabel managed to net the Patriots a high 2nd pick and Flynn doesn’t have the entire season on his resume. Assuming that teams are willing to trade a mid 2nd round or 3rd rounder, is it worth the risk?
- Sign of disrespect: I’m not sure Flynn would see this as a “slap in the face” as some other players see it who are given the franchise tag considering it would only be to get something in return for Flynn’s services, but some players don’t like the fact that the teams are “cheating” them out of a long term contract. With franchise tags lower than they were before, it is possible that teams could take advantage of that by keeping Flynn on his tag numbers and giving him a trial season. Naturally, if Flynn were an unrestricted free agent he would sign a long term contract, which in the end would probably net him more money. Also, if Flynn gets traded to somewhere where he’s rather not be (like heaven forbid in Oakland or in Cincinnati) he may not be a happy camper.
- Aaron Rodger’s pay raise: At some point the Packers are going to have to up Rodger’s contract, especially after the kind of season he had this year. Rodgers could potentially use Flynn’s franchise tag numbers as a point of comparison, especially considering it wouldn’t be unreasonable to make him the highest paid player in the NFL right now. Thompson is notorious for being a penny pincher, and if Rodger’s side knows that Thompson was willing to make a $14 million commitment to Flynn, then Rodgers knows he could get way more than that. I’m not convinced that Rodger’s is that kind of person or that Thompson would really try to skimp on the quarterback position, but economically it is an added point of contention.
I’ve tried to be as unbiased about it as possible, but what do you think? What should the Packers do with Matt Flynn?
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.