Breaking Down Matt Flynn’s Contract All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Matt Flynn led a fiery comeback for the Packers. And in some ways, the tie is a win.Coming into the 2014 season, many fans placed backup quarterback as the top priority of the offseason.  It’s easy to see why, the Packers were a drastically different (i.e. drastically bad) team after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken clavicle and it was only some late season heroics from “Plan F” Matt Flynn that the Packers even had a chance at a playoff run at the end of the season.  The Packers cannot expect to get so lucky that the Bears, Vikings and notably Lions happened to be even worse in 2014 and one of the quickest, most efficient fixes that can be made is having a viable backup quarterback on deck in case something happens to Rodgers again.  Keep in mind, Rodgers is now at higher risk of breaking his clavicle again (which is part of the nature of the injury) and is already at risk of concussions (which he has had a history of in the NFL), so it’s not a wasted effort to have someone ready right now.

In a previous article I have argued that after the initial rush of free agency, it didn’t make any sense to not resign Matt Flynn as quickly as possible.  As a 6 year veteran, his minimum contract was around $730,000, which is fully un-guaranteed and with offseason rosters being expanded to 90, theres no reason to not “waste” a spot on another quarterback in the offseason.  Furthermore I argued that should the Packers feel Scott Tolzein or any rookie quarterback was a better option, they could cut Flynn with basically zero penalty.  Commenters argued that it was possible that it was actually Flynn who was holding up negotiations as he was waiting until after the draft or hoping for a camp injury in order to get a better deal.

Well the financial details of Flynn’s deal were finally made public and I will say that I was a little surprised by the specifics, especially considering the scenario that occurred (more on that below). Below is some 1-year contracts signed by established, veteran backup quarterbacks in 2014:

  • Mark Sanchez (PHI) – $2.5 million total, $750,000 guaranteed, additional $2 million incentive clause
  • Shaun Hill (STL) – $1.75 million total, $500,000 guaranteed, additional $500,000 incentive clause
  • Tavaris Jackson (SEA) – $1.25 million total, $1.25 million guaranteed, additional $750,000 incentive clause
  • Matt Flynn (GB) – $970,000 total, $75,000 guaranteed, additional $100,000 incentive clause
  • Dan Orlovsky (DET) – $920,000 total, $125,000 guaranteed, no incentive clause reported
  • Josh Freeman (NYG) – $795,000 total, $55,000 guaranteed, no incentive clause reported

First off, the 1-year backup quarterback market was set ridiculously by the Philadelphia Eagles and Mark Sanchez.  Arguably all the quarterbacks on the list have roughly the same talent level and ability to lead a team but the Eagles grossly overpaid for a player who is coming off a pretty gruesome injury and one that was at best a game manager for the Jets.  The other striking deal the Seattle Seahawks’ contract with Tavaris Jackson, who fully guaranteed his $1.25 million contract (this highest amount of guaranteed money for any player on this list) and gave him a $750,000 incentive clause.  On the other end of the spectrum is Josh Freeman, who has fallen very far from grace after a public dispute with the now ex-coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Greg Schiano and one disastrous start with the Minnesota Vikings, essentially taking the veteran minimum deal in order to fight for a roster spot with the Giants.

Moving on to the contract given to Matt Flynn, you can see that it’s actually a very team friendly deal.  Flynn’s total contract is $240,000 more than the veteran minimum, but outside of Josh Freeman he has the lowest guaranteed money of any player.  However keep in mind Freeman really is a camp arm with Rusty Smith, Curtis Painter and presumed backup Ryan Nassib behind Eli Manning (arguably the only reason why Freeman was signed at all was because Painter had surgery that might cause him to miss some of training camp) so it can be said that Flynn has the lowest guaranteed money of any quarterback likely to make the final roster.  When you compare Flynn’s contract to Dan Orlovsky’s contract with the Lions you can see that Flynn’s deal is a lot more tied to his performance (looking at how little he got guaranteed plus the incentive clause), which again is an indication that Flynn was forced to take a weaker deal due to a poor market. Arguably Flynn’s numbers are actually better or at very worse on par with Orlovsky’s record (Fun fact: Orlovsky was part of the 0-16 Detroit Lions team, I guess the Lions are just a glutton for historical punishment)

Some have argued that the main reason Flynn signed at all was because the Packers and Giants were both looking and Flynn and Freeman, which does make some sense since former tight ends coach Ben McAdoo recently was hired as the Giants offensive coordinator.  As reports have indicated, both Flynn and Freeman were scheduled to try out for the Giants but Flynn ultimately didn’t make the trip because he signed with the Packers, which initially seems to indicated that the Packers sweetened the pot somewhat to get Flynn to sign.  While this is probably true, the Packers essentially only sweetened the pot a little because they still had all the leverage.

First off, with 4 quarterbacks already on the Giant’s roster, it’s pretty apparent that signing either Freeman or Flynn would have been a very short term solution, with both probably not even making it to training camp (where there aren’t enough reps for 5 quarterbacks).  With the Packers, Flynn knows he’s likely fighting for a backup spot with Scott Tolzein or a rookie quarterback, which gives him a great shot in seeing the full value of his contract as opposed to Josh Freeman, who will likely only see his $55,000 guaranteed money (plus anything tied to work out bonuses).  Secondly, it doesn’t appear as if the Giants were offering a competitive contract either; the Giants have the quarterback stable already filled with an established quarterback in Eli Manning, a veteran backup in Curtis Painter and a developmental quarterback in Ryan Nassib as opposed to the Packers who only have Scott Tolzein as a legitimate backup quarterback and its unlikely that Freeman had any more leverage than Flynn in that regard.  Finally, Flynn has plenty of reasons to stay with the Packers, who he has extensive experience in the system, already knows the majority of the players, has seen previous success with the franchise and perhaps most importantly a great rapport with Aaron Rodgers.

I would argue that in the end, the Packers basically got Flynn for rock bottom prices but that it took the impetus of Flynn potentially signing with the Giants for anything to really happen.  I have no idea what Ted Thompson and front office had in mind by waiting so long, perhaps they felt that Flynn would accept a more agreeable term should he find out his true value on the open market, but it’s likely Flynn already knew his market was cold after being on the street to start off the 2013 season and also risky because it only takes one team desperate after an injury or a poor draft to vastly overpay Flynn.  Overall, I still think it would have made more sense to just give him $240,000 off the bat more instead of sweating him this long; $240,000 is .2% of the 2014 salary cap and is essentially nothing to the Packers.  In return they get a experienced quarterback with a proven record of steady play at the game’s most important position; is this worth 1/5 of a percent of total salary cap?  I would say yes.


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


33 thoughts on “Breaking Down Matt Flynn’s Contract

  1. Flynn’s ability to function and function well in the Packers offense is worth the deal. Tolzien had a few nice passes here and there, but most of his yardage came between the 20 yard lines. Flynn can come in and go 3-1 or 2-2 over a 4 game span if Rodgers was injured, what more can you expect from a back up? Money well spent by Ted T.

    1. This was pretty much my argument. While I would say that Mark Sanchez’s contract is ludicrious, in the grand scheme of things I probably wouldn’t have been too unhappy if Flynn had gotten a similar contract; keep in mind the Packers gave John Kuhn a 1-year $1.03 million contract and I would say that a backup quarterback is more than twice as important as a starting fullback.

  2. This is a great piece of business for the Packers. Insurance at the absolute right price.

    On a side note, you got to love the way Matt Flynn took a tour around the league, made a ton of guaranteed money and came home to a great job. I have always maintained that life is about timing and Flynn has great timing. Good for Matt and good for the Packers.

    1. I don’t think many players get as lucky as he did when it comes to money; not many players get to raise their stock as highly as Flynn did before he left the Packers the first time; arguably if the Packers hadn’t going 14-1 before the Lions game and sat Rodgers out, it’s very likely that Flynn would never have gotten as much publicity as he did.

      1. From a distance, it looks as if the whole Packer/Flynn dance was orchestrated. The Packers give him a chance to shine and demonstrate his value. Flynn takes the opportunity to capitalize and does his league tour, raking in a big box office. Flynn comes home and thanks the Packers by being an affordable insurance policy to Rodgers. I would almost post it as a conspiracy if I didn’t know better.

        1. I don’t see the rationale for why the Packers would want to do this. Why would the Packers want Flynn to get a big contract somewhere else? Wouldn’t they rather have had him cheaply for the long term throughout? I don’t think it’s worth the effort just for a compensatory pick.

          1. Thomas – its a joke. The whole thing played out the way it did and ultimately both the Packers and Flynn won in the end. I couldn’t have written the script any better. Aside from being pleased that the Packers have the insurance, I am happy for Flynn. He got his shot(s), he got a great payday and he will contribute to the Packers going forward.

  3. Who says Thompson was the source of the delay?

    Flynn has an obligation to himself to find the best contract he can. He got nowhere near an offer to compare until the Giants situation, and then saw Thompson was offering a bit more in an overall better situation (familiar environment, #2 instead of #4 or 5 on the depth chart).

    That’s when *Flynn* made it a done deal.

    Thompson’s role is to pitch his offer accurately to Flynn’s market value(good for the team) , and to make Flynn ‘happy’ by letting him test the market and find out what that market value is.

    But the person who was in control of when the deal happened was Matt Flynn. These are people who make decisions about their future, not chess pieces that GMs move around.

    1. I said, exactly that from before the deal even happened. It was all about Flynn finding a deal that was best for HIM and his family. Thompson made his offer long ago and Flynn had to see if more was out there for him. I knew he would come back when the time was right for him. It was never about Thompson “making” him sign.

      1. I guess the question is really how much does Flynn want to test the market? I would argue that he doesn’t at all; first off he’s already had a taste of free agency, both good and bad. It’s hard to imagine any team really throwing lots of money his way so really its about finding the right fit for Flynn, where you have the highest chance of success and seeing the full amount of your contract.

        1. The difference between vet minimum and what he signed for amounts to about a 30% raise with a shot at another 15% bonus.

          You telling me that 45% of an annual salary isn’t worth any effort? Really?

          Every penny counts.

          1. We’re talking about one fifth of one percent of the salary cap, also if he hits any of the incentive clauses, I would say he earned it so I have no problem with that.

            To put it in perspective, Jamari Lattimore just signed for a $1.431 million contract, which is more than Flynn will make even if he hits all of his incentives.

      2. So despite having $50MM in the bank, he held out for a $100 grand? That would be stupid. His wife is great looking.

        1. Technically he “held out” for $240,000 and an incentive clause worth potentially another $100,000. Also I believe Thompson is single.

        2. Archie… First thing you’ve said in a while that I agree with, and DAMN, it’s a doozy! Had to look up Flynn’s wife, and SHA-WING… I’d have a helluva time concentrating on football, knowing I was coming home to her.

    2. I think the general sentiment when a player doesn’t get a new contract or signs with another team and is “valuable” in the eye’s of the fans is because Ted Thompson was being too miserly. You’ve seen this sentiment pretty often, two cases that come immediately to mind is not resigning Scott Wells and Evan Dietrich-Smith, who each got higher end deals but not exorbitant by any means.

      My arguement has mostly been that Thompson has the flexibility to overprice Flynn somewhat because his market value is so low to begin with; like I had mentioned before Flynn ultimately got about a quarter million more than he would have with a veteran minimum deal, arguably a price not worth losing a capable backup at. Was Thompson or Flynn holding off negotiations? Who knows but I don’t think Flynn was expecting all that much and having the “insurance policy” for basically nothing extra would have been worth it in my opinion.

      1. And that’s exactly where we are in the end with one significant difference since March 11– Flynn was willing to sign now. He was not willing then. It’s his life and his choice, after all.

  4. glad to have Matt Flynn back. I feel much better about our backup QB situation, no matter what else happens.

    1. That was basically my sentiment, its not like Flynn was overpaid by much ($240,000) so was it worth the risk of him signing elsewhere?

      1. Flynn wasn’t overpaid at all. By your own admission he signed a very team friendly contract. So which is it? Overpaid? Team friendly?

        Make up your mind! Your playing both sides and not very well. Pick a side make a case for it and stand by it! For a change.

          1. You think Barely over 1M total compensation for a good backup QB that saved the Packers season last year is overpaid? ComonMan… That peanuts in the NFL. Hell Kuhn is getting that much. I’ll admit Kuhn will likely see the field more than Flynn, but 1M for peace of mind that Flynn can come in if Rodgers goes down and go 2-2 if needed is money VERY WELL SPENT.

          1. I didn’t say anything about the author. I just asked him to take a stand on one side or the other and make a case for it.

            If you don’t mind that kind of shotty writing that’s your prerogative, I have a little higher standards. I don’t care which side, just take one and make your case.

            Maybe you should expect a little more!

      2. What makes you think Flynn was willing to sign for $1 million and an incentive back on March 11?

        Maybe back then he wanted something closer to what Sanchez got. If he had any sense of self worth, thats what he would have asked for.

        1. I’m pretty sure he knew better than that. Sanchez has the benefit of being a former 1st round pick and has the alibi that he was stuck on a defense-first, run-first football team with an organization that doesn’t know how to groom quarterbacks. I would argue that all that is likely because the team ended up that way partly because Sanchez wasn’t very good, but either way he can argue that he’s better than his production indicates.

          Flynn is pretty much the exact opposite, he’s a 7th round pick who was developed by an organization with a history of success with quarterbacks, and then had a shot in free agency and bombed in multiple locations, notably starting last season without a team. He might have wanted a contract equal to Sanchez, but no team was going to give it to him.

  5. Definitely a important and team friendly signing. Looking back at last year, and forward to this year, back-up qb, safety and ilb were & continued to be huge limiting factors to team’s success. Fingers crossed, one hole patched.

  6. My own guess is that TT offered a “qualifying contract” to Flynn long ago. These contracts are for one year only at the vet minimum with no more than $65K guaranteed. There can be some incentive clauses. In return, the team’s salary cap is only charged about $522K, the minimum for a 2nd year player, even though the player receives more compensation. The purpose of such contracts is so that veterans don’t get priced out of the market too easily. These contracts saves the team several hundred thousand dollars on the salary cap. I’m guessing Flynn waited and finally got a nibble from another team, and TT sweetened the deal to get him to sign and be done with it.

    I think that contract is simply fair market value for Flynn. I don’t think he is over or underpaid. It is a reasonable deal for both sides.

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