Matt Flynn put in three hours of great work this past Sunday, and probably earned himself $30M-$40M. Not a bad hourly wage. Throwing for six touchdowns and 480 yards before heading to free agency is like covering yourself in honey before walking into a bear’s den. Flynn will be an attractive free agent target for one of the team’s desperate for an answer at the quarterback position. A tidal wave of Seahawks fans are already jumping on the Flynn bandwagon, but just like I explained about Kevin Kolb last season, the signs do not point to Flynn wearing Seahawks blue.
That’s not to say Flynn to Seattle rumors will die down anytime soon. Flynn has made two career starts, and is 1-1 in those games. The first was on the road against the Patriots last season when he was 24-37, 251 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception for a 100.2 passer rating. The Packers lost that game 31-27. You know what happened in his other start on Sunday. It is hard to recall if any quarterback has had two more impressive starts to open his career. Kolb, actually, was not far off. His first start was against the Saints when he went 31-51, 391 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His second start was against the Chiefs, and he went 24-34, 327 yards with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Maybe two starts does not make a career, after all.
John Schneider was in the Packers front office when Flynn was drafted. That connection will be mentioned ad nauseum. In truth, that connection is the only thing that could overcome all the other factors that point to Flynn going elsewhere. Consider that signing a free agent comes down to three things: how much does your team want the player, how much do other teams want the player, how much does the player want any of the teams that want him.
It was clear last year that the Cardinals needed Kolb more than the Seahawks. They have an aging defense, and Larry Fitzgerald is in his prime. There was not time to develop a young quarterback. They needed someone who could come in and contribute right away. Seattle had reason to be interested in Kolb (and were, according to Pete Carroll), but because their interest/need was not as high as the Cardinals, they offered less to get him. Basic supply and demand.
Look at the suitors for Flynn this year. Seattle has a 28-year-old starter who played above expectations, and is under contract for a nominal amount in 2012. Jackson is a core part of the locker room as his teammates named him team captain in his first season, and he played through a major injury most of the year. They need a quarterback to groom behind him, but are not desperate to replace him as starter next season. Fans can complain about Jackson all they want, but that is the reality. There is every reason to think Jackson could lead this team to 10+ wins next season. Bringing in another starter and benching Jackson would not go over well in the locker room, and does not make a ton of sense for Carroll and Schneider unless the guy they bring in is certain to be a big upgrade (e.g., Peyton Manning).
Washington loves to spend big on free agents. They have two quarterbacks that are begging to be replaced. They hold the sixth pick in the draft, and have a great shot at Robert Griffin III if they stay put or trade up. The question for them will be whether they like Griffin or Flynn most, and what other players are available via the draft or free agency? They can afford to kick the tires on Flynn, and fall back to be aggressive in the draft if they lose out.
Cleveland might consider Flynn if they have decided to move on from Colt McCoy, but they have the fourth pick in the draft, so they would have to like Flynn more than Griffin. Their team is young, so getting a veteran quarterback is not a priority. Expect them to find a quarterback in the draft, if they decide to get one at all.
Kansas City could decide to go after a replacement for Matt Cassell, but he’s one year removed from posting a 93.0 rating and throwing for 27 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. They also just fired a coach he was warring with. It makes more sense for them to draft a young player in later rounds to groom under Cassell.
Miami has Matt Moore as a starter. He posted a respectable 87.1 passer rating, and is only 27. Brandon Marshall, their stud receiver, is 27 as well. It probably would be 2-3 years before a drafted quarterback would be ready to lead a contending team, so the Dolphins have more of a reason to be interested in a veteran to come in, as long as they believe he is better than what they have. They were ripped last season for not completing the Kyle Orton trade. This fan base will be putting a lot of pressure on the front office to be aggressive.
Miami probably has the strongest need, followed by Washington. Not surprisingly, those would be the most attractive situations for Flynn. Would he want to come to Seattle where he would be forced to compete with Jackson for the starting role, or would he rather go someplace where he comes in right away to start? Nobody wants to be a $30M backup (well, there are worse things…). Going to Miami offers a Pro Bowl receiver to throw to, a 1,000 yard rusher in Reggie Bush, and a Pro Bowl left tackle. Not to mention, no income tax and Florida Sun (a slight upgrade over Green Bay Sun).
For Seattle to get Flynn, they would need to decide he THE guy. They would have to consider releasing Jackson (his 2012 contract is not guaranteed) to avoid a fissure in the locker room. They would need to give him a huge contract. Those decisions would be largely based on two starts. Flynn would have to be convinced that Seattle is where he wants to move, and that he is a fit for this run-first offense. All this would have to happen, and the other suitors would need to be offering less and be less attractive. There is a slim chance that happens, but it is nowhere near the most probable outcome.