|Flynn would allow Cleveland to keep the two first-rounders they'd have to give up to acquire RG3 in the draft. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
In our AFC North free agency preview Wednesday, we mentioned that should Matt Flynn not end up in Miami, the Browns would certainly be interested. This is based on the assumption that Cleveland isn't yet fully committed to Colt McCoy and that Flynn is considered one of the best available free-agent quarterbacks.
On Thursday, Browns general manager Tom Heckert said that Peyton Manning wasn't in the team's future ("probably not the direction we're gonna go") but Flynn, at least according to the Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk, is definitely an option. Doerschuk writes that "the gates are wide open to signing Matt Flynn next week." And when Heckert was asked if Flynn would be in Ohio for a visit after free agency begins Tuesday afternoon, he offered this:
That's a lot to glean from one long syllable, but Flynn makes a ton of sense.
He's not a physical specimen, nor does he possess a particularly strong arm. But in the right system, his smarts and accuracy are assets. NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who watches more game film than anyone whose not an NFL coach, wrote recently about Flynn's strengths.
"His attributes, based on film breakdown of his two NFL starts, derive from his talent as a timing and rhythm passer who’s decisive with his reads and throws, and has shown good accuracy in the short to intermediate areas. …One thing I liked was his pocket movement. He showed the ability to slide and maintain his downfield focus. That’s a far more important trait than running out of the pocket."
CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco was impressed with Flynn's Week 17 performance against the Lions, but he's also wary of trying to draw conclusions based on two meaningful games in four NFL seasons.
"Watching this game would leave me wanting more. And that's the problem, there isn't much more. He has just one other start, in 2010 against the Patriots. He put up good numbers that day, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns, but as this Lions game taught us numbers can be deceiving. Signing him to a huge deal is essentially rolling the dice he can be a Super Bowl-quality starter."
Is the risk worth it? It's hard to say, but this much is certain: Flynn will be cheaper than what it will cost the Browns to trade up from No. 4 to No. 2 to take Robert Griffin III. When asked generally about the Browns' plans to draft a quarterback, Heckert was noncommittal:
“We might do it. We’re not saying that’s the case," he said. Heckert also admitted to talking to the Rams, who hold the second-overall selection, but wouldn't classify the discussions as "serious." He called media reports surrounding the team's draft plans "crazy" and suggested the Browns could stay put.
"We feel very comfortable staying at [No.] 4 and getting a good player there, and that could happen," he said. "And we feel comfortable in moving down and getting more picks, we really do. It's way early to start talking about this stuff."
The News-Herald's Jeff Schudal wrote Tuesday that bidding for Flynn is expected to involve Cleveland, Miami and Seattle (though the Seahawks and Dolphins could be caught up in Manning Mania in the coming days). Schudal also notes that Flynn would be cost-effective option to RG3:
"Flynn could cost $40 million or more on a multiyear contract, but the Browns would retain all their draft choices if that is what they choose. Flynn, a seventh-round draft choice from LSU in 2008, would be able to step right in and play in the Browns' West Coast offense because what the Browns run and what the Packers run have roots in Green Bay from the time current Browns president Mike Holmgren was the Packers' head coach from 1992-98."But on Thursday, attending the same Heckert press conference as Doerschuk, Schudal had a completely different take on the probability Flynn ends up in Cleveland.
"[Heckert] … implied the Browns will not go after Matt Flynn when the Packers quarterback becomes a free agent Tuesday."
"We're not down on Colt McCoy," Heckert added. "I want to make that clear. We talked (in January) about the protection stuff and receivers dropping balls. All that does factor in. If we catch more balls and protect him better can Colt be a lot better? Yes. That's our goal. We still think Colt can play in this league and it's our job to help him out."
Returning to what we wrote in the AFC North free agency preview: after a promising rookie season, McCoy regressed in Year 2, but again, that wasn't entirely his fault. There were allegations that the offense was too predictable, but this is what happens when a second-year quarterback is without his Pro Bowl running back, doesn't have a go-to receiver, and the offense line struggles to keep him upright. McCoy should get an opportunity to compete for the starting job but he likely won't head into training camp with his name atop the depth chart.
Either way, we'll know more come Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.
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