In case anyone forgot, the 2013 Packers will always be remembered as the “oh shit, Aaron Rodgers got hurt” season. After Rodgers broke his clavicle against the Bears, it became quite apparent that the Packers front office had been unusually caught with its collective pants off by having no viable backup to keep the team afloat. This all started in training camp and the preseason as the Packers cut incumbent backup quarterbacks Graham Harrell and BJ Coleman, leaving former 1st round pick and overall bust Vince Young as the presumed backup, only to release him at the 53 man cut deadline. After all that, the Packers front office signed Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien to actually backup the season. Obviously the football gods didn’t look favorably to all this as Seneca Wallace got hurt almost immediately into his first start for the Packers and left an unproven and inexperienced Scott Tolzien to start for the Packers against the Giants and part of the Vikings game. It was only when the Packers got to “plan F” did they get really desperate and call back old buddy Matt Flynn, who took over halfway into the Vikings game, managed to scrape a couple of tight wins against the Falcons and the Cowboys and managed to do just enough to keep the team afloat until Rodgers came back to play the Bears in the season finale with playoff hopes on the line.
This story is something that the Packers can ill afford to repeat; in all honestly the Packers did not get into the playoffs last year, the Bears and Lions were just even less deserving of a playoff berth. So the question really becomes, why are the Packers repeating 2013 by not resigned Matt Flynn and what reason could they possibly have?
Matt Flynn would not be an expensive backup, after bombing out in Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, its pretty apparent that the only team that has any value for Flynn is the Packers, and thus his asking price would be low due to no competition for his services. There has been no news of Matt Flynn taking any visits with any other teams and no rumors that any other team is even interested. Furthermore, Flynn missed out on the free agent signing rush, where some backup quarterbacks commanded as much as a $5 million average over 2-3 years. As such, the best Flynn will likely see is a 1 year veteran minimum, which for a player with 6 years of experience means $730,000.
Another possibility is to draft a rookie quarterback, but even with more rookie quarterbacks seeing more and more success right from the beginning, this should still be considered the exception rather than the norm. This is compounded when looking at mid to late round rookies, which is where the Packers will likely be drafting one (as they will with only two quarterbacks currently on the roster). Arguably the Packers gotten lucky all these years because Rodgers has been relatively durable, but even Matt Flynn likely would have sank the team had he had to start as a rookie in 2008. Furthermore, having a backup like Flynn doesn’t hurt the development of a younger quarterback as the difference between the backup and 3rd string quarterback for practice reps is nothing like that of the starter and his backups. Ideally a rookie quarterback would be competing with Scott Tolzien for a practice squad spot and not to be the backup for Aaron Rodgers.
The last possibility is signing another veteran free agent quarterback. Arguably this is probably the worst case scenario since you get all the issues of a veteran free agent quarterback while none of the benefits such as experience with the system or rapport with the offense. One of the rumored reasons that Flynn was passed over so many times by the Packers during the last offseason was a balky elbow. However, Flynn has never been the type of quarterback who stretches the field and makes the stick throw nor would he be really asked to play that way as a backup. Ideally, you want a backup who can get everyone lined up right, make the right calls and then not screw the play up. In that sense, Flynn is the ideal backup since he already knows the system and proved last year that his arm is still good enough to keep the Packers afloat.
A team without a star quarterback is one doomed to fail. Also true is that there are only so many people on this planet that can play quarterback at a high level in the NFL and the Packers are lucky to have one in Aaron Rodgers, and expecting for the “next Aaron Rodgers” to be waiting in the wings like he was with Brett Favre is unrealistic. What the Packers really need is a quarterback who can keep the team afloat, minimize mistakes and let the playmakers already on the team be as productive as they can. This quarterback doesn’t need to have a rocket arm or fast legs. Scott Tolzien isn’t that kind of quarterback nor was Vince Young. Matt Flynn is that type of quarterback and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be on the Packers roster right now. Should the Packers sign Flynn and then draft a quarterback who outperforms him in the offseason, then they can release Flynn without penalty. If Flynn’s elbow becomes too serious an issue, the Packers can release him without penalty. If another free agent quarterback becomes available who would be better than Flynn, the Packers can release him without penalty. But if none of these things happen, then Flynn is the best player to keep the Packers afloat should 2013 repeat itself.——————
Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.