Cory’s Corner: Solidify backup QB job and sign Matt Flynn All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Last year proved just how important a backup quarterback is not for just the Packers but for any football team.

Having a bona fide star quarterback is an advantage that coach Mike McCarthy may have gotten a little too comfortable with. He got used to the 50-yard rollout passes on a dime and being able to whistle a fastball into tight windows.

Matt Flynn finished with a 2-2 starting record for the Packers last year. He is an unrestricted free agent after earning a prorated veteran minimum $715,000 by the Packers.
Matt Flynn finished with a 2-2 starting record for the Packers last year. He is an unrestricted free agent after earning a prorated veteran minimum of $715,000 by the Packers.

They say you never really know what you have until it’s gone. Well, that couldn’t have been truer for the Packers last year. With Aaron Rodgers shelved for seven games, the Packers nomadically spun their wheels until Matt Flynn was able to play good enough to fix the leaks and right the ship.

Now I realize Flynn doesn’t exactly strike anything resembling fear into opposing defenses. But he is a six-year NFL veteran and more importantly, he’s a 4½-year vet of the Packers.

Which is exactly why I am surprised that the Packers haven’t signed the unrestricted free agent yet. His 3-4 career starting record may not be anything to brag about but his ability to win over a huddle and lead a team — especially when your No. 1 option goes down — are things you want in a substitute.

Flynn turns 29 this summer and even he must realize that his days of being a starting quarterback are over. After having dreams of leading the Seattle Seahawks, he was upstaged by Russell Wilson. To make matters worse, he was upstaged by Terrelle Pryor in Oakland and the Bills barely kicked the tires before sending him on his way after just 21 days.

The opportunity to become a starting quarterback in the NFL is ever-shrinking, especially with all the dynamic college quarterbacks that are now bursting on to the scene.

The only sticky point could be money. Flynn was paid a pro-rated veteran minimum salary of $715,000 last year for Green Bay. With that money, he salvaged a 16-point deficit against Minnesota, which ended in a tie. And he orchestrated comeback wins vs. Atlanta and the thriller at Dallas.

McCarthy hasn’t missed an opportunity to mention how much he likes Scott Tolzien, who is under contract for $645,000 next season. I think Tolzien can one day become a solid NFL quarterback. However, the Packers aren’t in a position to wait. They have the best wide receiving tandem in the game in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, a running back in Eddie Lacy that has all the makings of being another great Green Bay road grader and an outside linebacker in Clay Matthews that should only get better as he enters his sixth season.

If the Packers were St. Louis or Jacksonville, I’d say Flynn wouldn’t add any value to your team because those teams aren’t playing for the present. However, if Rodgers goes down for an extended period of time again next year and Tolzien’s number is called, I’m not fully confident that he would get the job done.

Flynn may have an arm that’s made of out of spaghetti and he’s got a pair of cinder blocks for feet. But leadership in the NFL shouldn’t be discounted, especially when the Packers have weapons that make it easier to hide his flaws.

The Packers rolled the dice last year with Seneca Wallace. He was an aging quarterback that made his living scampering out of the reach of hulking defensive linemen. When his speed finally caught up to him, his arm and more importantly his leadership were exposed.

Making the same mistake with the backup quarterback again will likely not put the Packers in another fortunate playoff spot. It will force them to make some tough personnel decisions that should have been addressed a year ago.


Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


23 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: Solidify backup QB job and sign Matt Flynn

    1. The best no, not anymore. But a top 5? HELL YES. Boykin will only be better tis year and the Packers signed Chis Harper who no one knows anything about. I wouldn’t doubt a bit that Harper is this years Boykin, only bigger and faster. Packers QB’s have seemed to do that with just about any receiver since 1992.

  1. I think the issue, more than the money, is regarding how many QB’s they want to have on the roster. Do we have room for 3? Probably not. Tolzien won’t last on the practice squad and he certainly showed potential to be a quality backup. I wonder how much Flynn’s health/arm issues are affecting this. If they deem that his arm is going to be the same or even worse than last year, I won’t be surprised or upset if they let him go. Given a whole offseason, I believe Tolzien offers the team more upside. GoPack!

    1. I don’t think arm strength is preventing him signing. It was good enough for him to help the Packers win last year and in his previous stint in GB. His arm should be healed from the minor injury he apparently had last year. McCarthy knows Flynn and how to gameplan with him.

      I think he’ll sign in GB when Flynn decides the time is right. I think he is waiting to see if a starter gets injured in the offseason. If that happens he might have the opportunity to compete for a starting job on another team. I wouldn’t doubt that he signs just before training camp if no opportunites become available. Flynn doesn’t need the offseason program in GB like Tolzien does. He and Tolzien would then compete in training camp for the backup job and they will probably draft a QB mid to late rounds for the PS.

  2. What to do with old rubber arm? Can’t pay him anymore than minimum and even then is he worth it? Can’t have him taking up space on the roster. I say lovingly let him go. No one will pick him up. You can have him on speed dial if you need him. In the interim he can practice in the back yard with his kids. I do believe I just solved this problem…

  3. Ted should fly Flynn and his agent to Green Bay and sit them down in the film room.

    Then show a non-stop parade of game film of Zeke Bratkowski, Jeff Hostetler, Frank Reich, Steve Bono, Earl Morrall, George Blanda, Doug Williams, Don Strock and Doug Flutie.

    Then as he slides a three-year deal at about a mill a year over to him, simply says, “not everyone can be an Aaron Rodgers, but after seeing this, wouldn’t you like to at least go down in history as the guy that had his back?”

    1. I’m not seeing this at all.

      First, I don’t think any professional athlete is going to be impressed with the argument, “Why don’t you come on ever here and be known as a career backup?” It just doesn’t pack a lot of selling power.

      As for the numbers, Mark Sanchez just signed a one year contract worth up to $4 million with 2.5 million guaranteed! How’s Flynn going to like, “Oh, yeah… and in addition to being known as a backup, you’ll be making one quarter of what the Butt Fumble makes?”

  4. Flynn will sign, somewhere, once his price point has been established. The relevant comparison is Kevin Kolb, who also is still unsigned.

    So I think ‘putting Flynn’s number on speed dial,’ while attractive and consistent with the way the Packers have treated veteran backup options in the past, is not likely to work this year, at least not as a ‘sure thing’ to get Flynn — if you go that route, your option is more likely to be Seneca Wallace or the equivalent.

    It will be interesting to see what Tolzien can do after a full offseason, but I don’t believe he is even eligible for the practice squad any more — this will be his 4th year after graduation, he was on the 49ers PS for 2 years, and then was on PS in GB plus on the 53-man roster for the last 9 weeks of the regular season. The rule is no more than 3 years on PS, and no PS after 9 weeks on the regular roster (cumulative) — Tolzien is PS ineligible for both reasons.

    So if they hire Flynn and Tolzien turns out solid, they would have to cut Flynn or carry 3 QBs. They may not want to commit to that decision prior to the draft.

    My guess is the Packers don’t pay Flynn until they get a solid look at Tolzien in “Quarterback School.” Flynn doesn’t really need the school, and may (emphasis on ‘may’) be willing to wait for a contract that pays him a little more in GB than he could get elsewhere.

    That approach has the added advantage of seeing what kind of prospect falls to GB in the draft or UDFA. I’m pretty sure they will kick the tires on at least a UDFA QB this year, and in a deep draft they might find someone worth a 6th or 7th round pick.

    1. Kolb, IIRC retired due to concussions. He’s not interested in risking his future health nor are teams willing to take that chance even if he isn’t “officially” retired.

      Flynn can sign in GB right before training camp and still probably be the favorite to win the backup QB job over Tolzien. I think he told the Packers he’ll sign w/ them if no QB’s get injured in the offseason programs or after the draft if another team can’t offer him a chance to compete for a starting job.

  5. I’m always a bit conflicted when I see arguments that include:

    1) Flynn was outplayed by Terrelle Pryor in Oakland, and
    2) The Bills barely assigned him a jersey before cutting him, and
    3) the Packers should sign him as quickly as possible.

    I ain’t one of them “genie” thingees, but sumptin’ don’t seem quite right…

    1. Flynn plays very well in the Packers system and at least keeps them in the game. With Flynn at QB I feel the Packers have a chance, can’t say that about Tolzien, not yet anyways.

  6. Kind of interesting career arc for Flynn. It’s as if we had him on retainer for the last two years.

    In 2012 it’s like we loaned him out to Seattle which worked out because ARod was healthy the whole year. In 2013 ARod gets hurt and we bring him back at a low salary. I do believe if Flynn hadn’t gone for the big bucks as a FA in 2012 the Packers would have kept him as their number one backup. So it was if we had him as our backup without having to pay him much. Kinda, sort-of.

    Anyway, what to do with him now. As Ed mentioned above – Tolzien is out of PS eligibility. I don’t think there’s anyway the Packers keep both on the 53. So it’s between the crafty but limited Flynn and the younger but unproven Tolzien. Since the Packers are “going for it” every year now with Rodgers aging, I would take the more proven option in Flynn. Neither Flynn or Tolzien is going to get you far in the playoffs, but Flynn is more likely to hold the fort until help arrives. Now this is assuming Flynn is willing to accept his role as a backup. He might still think he’s starter material.

    As far as losing Tolzien altogether, I don’t see a huge market for him. A few teams like him, but there are players like him all over the NFL. There’s a good chance the Packers could reacquire in the future if need be.

    1. “He might still think he’s starter material.”

      There it is! We as fans don’t think he’s a starter, but in Flynn’s mind I think he thinks he is a starting QB. He just wants to see if the opportunity to compete for a starting job opens up again and told the Packers he just wants to wait to see if an injury occurs in the offseason or a team isn’t happy after the draft w/ its QB situation and is willing to let him compete for a starting job.

      If none of that happens, he can sign in GB just before training camp and compete w/ Tolzien for the backup job.

  7. flynn is emergency. he won’t sign with anyone and will be available on the street all season if we need him. Why waste the time having him in training camp and not let tolzien and another young guy develop? Tolzein and a 7th round QB will battle for the back up spot, if Rodgers goes down we sign Flynn. problem solved. no need to worry

  8. People seem to think that signing Flynn is a “no lose” proposition (i.e. “you can always just cut him later”). But it most certainly isn’t a no lose sort of thing.

    Mark Sanchez, whom most people on this board seem to rate LOWER than Flynn, just signed a contract that included $2.5 MILLION GUARANTEED. Were the Eagles to “just cut him” … then congratulations, Eagles, you just flushed two and a half million dollars in cold hard cash AND cap space, and you received absolutely nothing in return.

    A lot of people on this board don’t believe (or at least aren’t sure) that Flynn would even beat out Tolzien – he of the $700,000 non-guaranteed contract.

    And that’s why you don’t sign Flynn, at least not now.

    1. “Mark Sanchez, whom most people on this board seem to rate LOWER than Flynn, just signed a contract that included $2.5 MILLION GUARANTEED”

      Do we forget that, as bad as Sanchez has looked, he DID QB the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games, no? Sanchez was drafted high, whether he really deserved it or not. There’s still going to be coaches or GMs out there who hope to catch lightning in a bottle on the cheap.

      What has Flynn done as a starter? That’s right: he couldn’t win and keep a starting job when given the chance. No one is going to write him a big check, and–frankly–if a starting QB goes down in OTAs and another team signs him away, it’s not a big loss.

      1. I’m not entirely sure what your point is, Dobber, but how much Sanchez got isn’t really the issue. There’s no way Flynn is signing without a bonus. Even undrafted free agents get bonuses, albeit very small ones. So let’s say Flynn’s guaranteed money is “only” $500,000 (compared to Buttfumble’s 2.5 million). Is any GM as cap-conscious as TT going to want to risk a half million in cash and cap space on a guy who, as you say, isn’t going to be a big loss?

        1. When the Jets went to back to back AFC championship games they had a top tier defense loaded with talent.Sanchez had an average QB rating as well. He’s been over-hyped his whole career! He’s got a decent arm but his accuracy sucks and is poor at reading defense’s.His decision making just plain sucks. In todays QB driven NFL if your team doesn’t have what appears to be a Franchise QB on the roster an owner and his GM will at times over reach and panic trying to fill that void. Look at the money the Cardinals threw at K Kolb in 2011 and Viking GM Rick the Dick Speilman laid a goose egg picking that clown Christian Ponder. Sanchez only started 18 games at USC and Jets GM Mike Tennanbaum foolishly traded down to draft someone who probably would have been available in the 2nd to 3rd round. Right now the Eagles are still reaping the benefit of Andy Reid’s eye for talent. Their GM Howie Roseman is a silly buff who in do time will make many more dumb decisions like signing butt fumble boy to a multi million $ contract!

  9. According to pro football focus Flynn was rated in the top ten in QB rating for both passing accuracy and passing accuracy while under pressure. He is a westcoast system QB and far better than most people think.

    1. you could cherrypick and find good stats for anyone. PFF also graded him 35th out of 42 qb’s on a per-snap basis. and that was with 3 of his 5 games being against some of the worst defenses in the league (MIN,ATL,DAL).

  10. Flynn brings experience in the Packers system and the team responds well to him when he takes over the huddle. How much is that worth? He doesn’t seem to get rattled even when the team falls way behind and he does a pretty good job of securing the football. He doesn’t have the greatest arm in the league but neither did Bart Starr or Zeke Bratkowski or Joe Montana. He has proven that he can get the job done. Having said that I would still keep my options open, which the Packers are apparently doing and, not re-sign him until the price is right or until training camp if we don’t a QB and have him battle Tolzien for the #2 spot. It seems to me that, the last time we had this discussion over Kuhn, he signed about 2 weeks later. Maybe the same for Flynn. We’ll see. Thanks, Since ’61

  11. When Flynn departed GB for Seattle, many he was a “system QB.” That’s true…
    the system is in Green Bay!

    Signing Flynn now is not a concern in that I don’t believe anyone in the NFL sees him as a starting caliber QB. I believe, like many here, he’s waiting for a team to lose a QB during training camp.

    The Packers seem willing to play along. They run the risk of losing Flynn to another team. They also run the risk of exposing Flynn to injury if they bring him in during the later stages of training camp as happened with Seneca Wallace.

    Tolzien is unproven despite last season’s playing time. Will he be better than he was in 2013? Most likely, yes. Will that improvement be worth the risk of not being able to get Flynn back as in 2013?

    As on now, no.

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