In a bit of shocking news that shouldn’t surprise anyone (as paradoxical as that sounds), the Oakland Raiders have released Matt Flynn after being demoted to 3rd string after a dismal showing against the Washington Redskins, who Packers fans are quite aware are currently fielding one of the worst defense this year. The shocking bit is that the Raiders traded for Flynn with the Seahawks this offseason and brought over his $6.5 million guaranteed salary for 2014. While this might not seem like much for a potential starting quarterback, keep in mind this is the Oakland Raiders, who have been so marred by the salary cap left behind by Al Davis that they literally needed to pinch every penny this year just to stay cap compliant. So while Flynn’s performance certainly has justified his release, his contract (in context with the Raiders) make him prohibitively expense to let go.
Of course, Matt Flynn is still remembered by Packers fans as the guy with the lumberjack beard who managed to break all sorts of records against the Lions in 2011 and had a pretty good showing against a dominant New England Patriots defense in 2010. Packers fans will also be quick to point out the disaster of an offseason where Graham Harrell never progressed, BJ Coleman got worse and Vince Young never figured it out. In the end, the Packers settled on Seneca Wallace, who has experience but is essentially an unknown as he hasn’t appeared on the field. I’m sure a lot of fans are hoping that the Packers sign back Flynn, bring back some known stability and maybe even resuscitate a career that’s been blown off course. On the other hand, many fans will be quick to point out that Flynn was unable to beat either Wilson or Pyror despite coming into the season as the starter and in his brief showings with the Seahawks and Raiders looked out of place and unable to lead his team.
Personally, I think signing Flynn would be a good idea but probably not for the reason everyone is thinking about. In my opinion, back up quarterback performance is a moot point because the Packers are going to be screwed if Aaron Rodgers gets significantly hurt either way. Flynn might even be worse than Wallace, but the one aspect that I don’t think is talked about nearly enough is Flynn has more rapport with Rodgers than Wallace likely does at this point. What I mean by that is that a backup quarterback does more than just wait for the starting quarterback to go down; backup quarterbacks mostly help the starting quarterback by breaking down film, studying tendencies, going over game plans and essentially working as a quarterback assistant (you’ll almost always see the backup quarterback with a clipboard and ear piece during the game because they’re charting out plays). Of course not only are they getting themselves ready, but they are also helping the starting quarterback as well. In this regard you want a backup quarterback that Aaron Rodgers trusts and does things the same way as he does. In that regard Matt Flynn is almost definitelt superior to Wallace. Aaron Rodgers has always been very vocal about his respect and friendship with Flynn and as both Flynn and Rodgers “grew up” under McCarthy and his offensive scheme so both likely see things and go about things the same way.
The last thing to consider is that the Raiders did include offset language in Flynn’s contract, which means any money Flynn receives by signing with another team is money that the Raiders don’t have to pay. The only reason that this becomes relevant is again with the Packers, who might be the only team interested in Flynn and knowing the relationship between Ted Thompson and Reggie McKenzie, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers were part of the decision to release Flynn. As a GM, McKenzie must have been looking to trade Flynn before releasing him and the most logical trade partner would be Ted Thompson, who might be the only guy right now willing to take a chance on Flynn; of course Thompson’s not just going to fork over draft picks and that much cap space for a backup quarterback so obviously no trade took place. However, if Thompson told McKenzie that he would sign Flynn should he hit free agency, then McKenzie knows he will at least recoup some of Flynn’s salary, which mitigates the salary cap hit; assuming Flynn takes a $2-3 million contract McKenzie can recoup 33-50% of Flynn’s salary this year, which is pretty sizable.
Overall, I think signing Flynn would be a good move, again not because he will win games for the Packers but because he will help Aaron Rodgers prepare. I’m also guessing that Flynn’s release is tied to the Packers as it seems unlikely that Reggie McKenzie would be willing to take the full salary cap hit of releasing Flynn considering Terrell Pyror has been injured and backup Matt McGloin is an undrafted rookie who wasn’t all that impressive in college. Ted Thompson also has a familiarity and stake in Flynn where as he has no relation to Seneca Wallace. At the end of the day, no one knows what Ted Thompson is going to do except Ted Thompson, but a lot of things are looking like the return of a prodigal son.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.