|Green Bay might franchise Flynn but only to trade him to a team in desperate need of a QB. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
The Packers inked tight end Jermichael Finley to a two-year deal Wednesday night, which means that they can now use the franchise tag on backup quarterback Matt Flynn. The organization isn't interested in paying Flynn $14.4 million to watch Aaron Rodgers in 2012, but instead are hoping to trade him to a quarterback-needy team.
" If (the Packers) franchise Flynn before the March 5 deadline, they would be on the hook for a $14.4 million salary, but their intention would be to do a sign-and-trade," Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote late Wednesday.
"In other words, they would shop Flynn to those interested in him and take the best offer. Flynn would have to agree to renegotiate the one-year deal into a long-term contract before any team would be willing to make a trade. Then, once he was dealt, he would restructure the contract."
The Patriots did something similar with Matt Cassel in 2009 -- franchising him before eventually trading him to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.
So who might be in the market for Flynn's services? The Dolphins seem like the most logical destination; new head coach Joe Philbin was Flynn's offensive coordinator in Green Bay and Miami has no intentions of re-signing Chad Henne. Then there are the Redskins, Seahawks, Cardinals, and the Browns.
We went into painstaking detail about Flynn's future (as well as that of Peyton Manning, the other quarterback who will draw plenty of interest in free agency as soon as he's released).
NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who watches more game film than anyone whose not an NFL coach, wrote Thursday about Flynn's strengths and weaknesses. Many of the concerns scouts had about Flynn coming out of college remain (size and arm strength chief among them), but he still has the chance to be pretty good.
"Flynn, at 6-foot-2, does not possess prototypical size. He has above-average arm strength, nothing more," Cosell said. "There are power throws he will struggle to make, like deep digs at 18-22 yards, or deep comebacks. In fact, these are not throws you would ask Flynn to make. The bottom line: Flynn is not a top-level passer.
"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."
So what are Flynn's long-term prospects? "Flynn, I believe, can be a successful NFL starter, but he must be carefully manipulated by the schematics of the passing game, and helped by the play-calling," Cosell said. "He’s not Aaron Rodgers simply because he put up better numbers in a late-season start. Rodgers is an exception, a supremely talented passer with rare traits. Few quarterbacks in NFL history have thrown with Rodgers’ combination of velocity and accuracy."
Cosell concludes that "It would make good sense for Flynn to join his former offensive coordinator in Miami. Philbin understands from personal experience Flynn’s strengths and limitations. If he gets the chance, he will take a page from the Bill Walsh book, and cast Flynn in his rightful role: an efficient passer in a multi-dimensional passing game in which the scheme rules, not the quarterback."
Flynn has drawn comparisons to Kevin Kolb, who was miscast in the Cardinals' scheme last season (they run a completely different offense than the Eagles' version of the West Coast). The difference: if Flynn lands in Miami, he'll have a much greater chance for success.
Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said he hadn't heard about the grassroots South Florida "Manning to Miami" push until someone told him about it at the combine in Indianapolis Thursday morning, but said that "I don't think it has to be a long-term solution (at quarterback) -- I think you can look at a short-term solution."
Hopefully, Ireland meant that in the physical sense (Flynn's 6-2) and not in the "we can get a year or two out of this old-timer assuming he's completely healthy (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, we're getting Peyton!)" sense.
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