Green Bay Packers: Risk in Franchise Tagging QB Matt Flynn? All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Matt Flynn
Could the Packers tag-and-trade free agent QB Matt Flynn?

Now that the Green Bay Packers have re-signed tight end Jermichael Finley to a two-year, $15 million deal Wednesday, the focus has shifted from what could have been a messy franchise-tag dispute on Finley to whether or not the Packers will tag-and-trade free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Silverstein thinks the Packers will likely franchise tag Flynn and attempt to trade him away for a high draft pick or two. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King also speculated that Finley’s deal makes it more likely that the Packers would franchise tag Flynn.

Naturally, the increase in compensation from a tag-and-trade with Flynn—which could be a draft pick one to two rounds higher than the compensatory pick the Packers would likely get if he walked in free agency—makes this option very appealing. The Packers would also be receiving a pick or two in the 2012 NFL draft, not a 2013 pick like if Flynn walked.

But there would also seem to be a big risk in going down this path with Flynn.

For one, the Packers would have to clear cap space to fit in the $14.4 million a franchise tag would cost on Flynn. By most estimates, the Packers are currently at around $10-11 million in cap space.

Letting go or completely re-structuring the deals of both Donald Driver and Chad Clifton would get the Packers plenty clear of the $14.4 million mark.

If the Packers did tag Flynn, he would almost certainly sign the offer sheet—putting the Packers on the hook for the $14.4 million and forcing them to find a trade partner. If no team bit on Flynn, the Packers would be stuck with a backup quarterback making considerably more than their NFL MVP starter, Aaron Rodgers. Re-signing center Scott Wells and special teamer Jarrett Bush would also become tricky under the cap.

But here’s the kicker in the whole deal: The Packers won’t even ponder franchise tagging Flynn unless they have a handshake deal in place with another team on both the parameters of a trade and a re-structrured deal for Flynn—the two necessary components for a tag-and-trade scenario to successfully play out.

Yes, NFL rules are supposed to avoid tampering, which seemingly would become a problem considering the Packers have to tag Flynn by March 5 and that a trade cannot happen between teams until the new league year starts on March 13. Talks about moving players such as Flynn would be considered tampering until that date.

But let’s be honest here. The next week at the NFL Scouting Combine is a tampering fest, and there are plenty of ways to get a handshake deal in place without actually tampering. Depending on the language used in the dialogue, the Packers and team X can skirt the boundaries of tampering without actually breaking any NFL rules.

Then, with a deal agreed upon and a contract re-structuring completed, the Packers and team X can simply send in the deal once the new league year starts. Very little risk if done right.

And if the Packers can’t get a deal done before the tagging deadline? No tag for Flynn.

Packers GM Ted Thompson simply won’t risk $14.4 million on his cap for a backup quarterback unless he knows for certain that a deal is happening.

This is a different situation than 2008, when Thompson tagged Corey Williams and then received a deal from the Cleveland Browns that he couldn’t refuse. There will be a specific plan in place for Flynn to ensure the risk in this deal is as low as they can make it.

A move that would seem to have a lot of risk tied in doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. If Thompson plays his cards right, this could (and should) be a high-reward, low-risk endeavor.


Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on


11 thoughts on “Green Bay Packers: Risk in Franchise Tagging QB Matt Flynn?

  1. It seems that TT should have plenty of other GMs out there that he could get a handshake deal in place with that also have a need at QB. I would say that Miami and Cleveland are the two obvious choices, Seattle and Washington are possibilities and San Francisco and Arizona both have an outside chance (I think San Fran is content with Alex Smith for another year and AZ is a bit snakebitten from their failed Kolb experiment).

    Who knows, maybe even Denver will step into the fray, I could see KC doing something along the same lines (again Cassel wasn’t worth what they paid really) and even Jacksonville could get involved (Gabbert couldn’t have been any worse last year).

    At any rate, I’m really looking forward to find out if/when a Flynn deal gets done and what they get out of it.

  2. If I remembre, Cleveland got pelnty of choices in the next draft in exchange of Julio Jones … they may have few spare choices among those to put on Flynn for a deal

  3. Zack, very good article, also with a lot to think about. I tend to believe a franchise tag on a backup QB is the most risky endevour any team can take. This is a guy who will never be anything but a backup at GB unles AR is injured.

    Handshake deal? I’m not trusting any of the guys GB would be dealing with to follow through. The financial risk is way too high for a team like GB. We ain’t got no Jerry Jones to cover a screwup.

    Listening to Silversein and the other dunces at the Journal is a risk in itself. They know less than most of us. They just like to think they do.

    The only way a deal occurs is if GB can make a deal with Flynn’s agent to consider a trade and if he agreea GB signs Flynn for some # and deals him as soon as the trading period starts. That’s probably against league rules so there will be no, I repeat, no franchise tag for Flynn.

    Just wish Flynn the best and start worrying about fixing the holes in the D.

  4. If the Pack do tag Flynn with a handshake deal in mind, the period from March 5 to the 13th might cause a few sleepless nights for TT. At least with Corey Williams there wasn’t an amount anywhere close to the $14.4 million cap hit he could take on this one.

    I heard that even if the Pack tags & trades Flynn they still have to take some cap hits related to it in future years. I don’t believe that’s true and if it were would be a major problem for me.

    Also, let’s say the worst happened and the Pack had Flynn on their roster at $14 million. Couldn’t they trade him anytime from March 13 to the trade deadline in October? I bet someone by that time would be looking for a starting QB either due to injury or poor performance.

    I say, GO FOR IT TED!(besides, I’ll bet TT already has a strong idea that there a number of teams more than interested)

    1. The only problem with hanging on to him longer is that he eats up all that cap room until he is traded.

  5. I’d be happy with a deal that switched
    Ist and 2nd round choices. That way the team making the trade wouldn’t be losing
    any draft choices. Both teams would come out winners. Does this make sense to any
    body else?

    1. Yes it does. Or even just moving up within the same round. Don’t know what the value chart dictates but moving up from late first to middle to upper first could be valued and cost you a number 1 (perhaps in the future) in and by itself.

  6. Maybe I’m missing something and don’t know all the rules but wouldn’t it make more sense to tag Flynn with the transition tag? I believe transition gets the average of the top 10 salaries instead of top 5. Flynn could then go negotiate a deal with another team on his own. When he signs the deal the Packers match it to retain him and then trade him right back to that team for a draft pick.

  7. It’s an interesting proposition but TT is historically frugal. I can’t see him spending 14mil on a player that won’t even play on the team for that year. Also, let’s say DD and scott wells aren’t on the roster and we clear the 14mil mark, we still don’t have enough cap room to take advantage of trading Flynn for another first round pick. the 14mil spent on Flynn after barely making enough cap room available to sign him leaves no room to bring in all pro rushers. It would be a waste. I mean, who else are we going to cut to make room for 2 first round picks let alone the rest of the draft? I would agree with cutting hawk (actually I agree with that regardless of whether or not it helps make cap room for the draft) but to my understanding it won’t help enough to warrant signing 2 first round picks. This just doesn’t fit TT’s MO and it doesn’t work when you consider the numbers. I’m 99% sure this won’t happen but I’ve been wrong before.

    1. If the Packers tagged Finley and then traded him to a team, that team would re-structure his contract and wipe the $14 million off the Packers books. Very little financial impact if he’s traded.

  8. Ah I see. I thought if he was tagged it would be a penalty for trading him that would count against the cap for the year. Thanks for the info. This article makes a lot more sense now and I retract my previous statement and on top of that I fully endorse this option.

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