Early Thoughts On Trading Matt Flynn, Drafting Matt Barkley

Everyone has Seahawks backup quarterback Matt Flynn on the first bus out of town this off-season. The logic goes that Russell Wilson is a quarterback deity, so what’s the point of spending “all this money,” on Flynn who will never play? I will explain why that logic is flawed in a moment, but the outcome could wind up being the same no matter the reason.


Matt Flynn’s Contract Will Force Seattle To Move Him – FALSE
Flynn is scheduled to make around $7M next year, which is a lot for a back-up quarterback, but Wilson makes under $400K. The total cost of that position is still well under the NFL average. Wilson’ contract cannot be re-negotiated within the first three years due to the new CBA. The team may like the idea of spending that money elsewhere, but they can meet all their roster goals without moving Flynn.

Keeping Flynn Is Pointless – FALSE
Ask the Redskins, Steelers, Cardinals, 49ers, and Vikings the value of a starting quality back-up quarterback. Nobody can convince me Flynn is anything less than a Top 20 NFL starting quarterback if he gets a chance, and likely Top 15. He is that good. Having that kind of talent backing up a Top 5 talent is extremely valuable, as a starting quarterback injury is generally the surest way to a disastrous season.

The Read Option Means Flynn Has No Place Here – FALSE
Flynn will not be running the read option, but it is just one part of this offense. He would do some thing better than Wilson in the passing game, and the coaches would just emphasize his strengths. It is a consideration, but not a nail in the coffin.


Myths aside, Flynn could very well be on his way elsewhere. If I am John Schneider and Carroll, my ideal involves drafting Matt Barkley and getting draft choices back for Flynn. That may sound insane. After all, Barkley is a likely first-round pick, and would be the certain back-up. Let’s take a closer look.
First, there may be no USC player that Carroll thinks more highly of than Barkley. He has repeatedly had to stop himself in the midst of effusive praise of Barkley whenever the topic of great young quarterbacks comes up. I do not think “man-crush” is too strong of a description of Carroll’s admiration for Barkley as a person and a player.

Second, Barkley’s stock has fallen dramatically from last year when he was considered a lock for the Top 10. Many are projecting him in the last first-round or early second.

Third, drafting a back-up quarterback would mean the team would have two quarterbacks making microscopic salaries for the next few years, allowing them to have an exorbitant amount of cap space to retain their veterans and sign other key free agents. Seattle would be the envy of the NFL. Remember, it would take nearly 46 years of Wilson’s salary to equal one year of Peyton Manning’s. Manning’s one-year salary is about the same cost as the entire Seahawks starting defense.

Fourth,  Carroll is not kidding about this competition thing. No greater statement could be made than bringing in another young stud to push Wilson for that spot. Nobody would think Barkley would unseat Wilson, but no player would try harder.

Fifth, Barkley would be become a significant trade chip in the next year or two. Nothing garners more interest than a young back-up quarterback that has demonstrated real talent in the pre-season and possibly a spot start here or there. Seattle would likely more than recoup their investment in terms of draft choices.


Barkley is not the only option, but he is a higher probability than some may realize. And don’t forget the compensation for Flynn. The likely asking price would start at a 1st round pick in 2014. It would not shock me to see an even higher asking price given the sad state of the quarterback market this off-season and the glut of teams desperate to have new hope at the position. The top-end price could wind up being a 2nd round pick in 2013 and a 1st round pick in 2014. That would be a deal similar to the Matt Schaub scenario (two 2nd round picks and swapping 1st round picks). The other option worth exploring is the Kevin Kolb scenario where Seattle gets a quality player in return for Flynn.

For example, the Jaguars just hired a new head coach in Gus Bradley that knows first-hand how good Flynn is. Maybe he would be interested in parting with a defensive lineman like Tyson Alualu along with a draft choice. Alualu registered 3.5 sacks from a defensive tackle position last season for the Jaguars, and is scheduled to have a cap number of around $6M next season. The Jets have Muhammad Wilkerson, who might be an ideal replacement for Alan Branch, although it is hard imagining them surrendering a young talent like that.

The point is that Seattle will likely have the option of at least a 2nd round pick or taking on a player that fits a need. Knowing the high cost of interior lineman on the open market, the high cost of receiving talent, and the high cost of edge pass rushers, my early bet would be Seattle would look for a player plus a lower-round draft choice (maybe a conditional 5th that could move to a 4th depending on Flynn’s performance).