With reports the Green Bay Packers are unlikely to franchise tag quarterback Matt Flynn, the Cleveland Browns become front runners for the quarterback’s services. The Browns have the 4th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and have been the most likely team in most mocks to draft Baylor quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III this year. With Flynn now available, the Browns should be evaluating a new strategy. With estimations ranging from 30 million and higher for the 2012 season and a the rookie wage scale, the Browns have no excuse not to get this deal done. Why does it make the most sense?
AN UPGRADE AT TWO POSITIONS LONG TERM: If Cleveland signs Matt Flynn, the opportunity will be there for them to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Mike Holmgren has already alluded to the fact Peyton Hillis will be allowed to walk which means the Browns are in the market for a long term solution at running back. Richardson is the best back in the draft and brings visions of Mark Ingram’s success with the New Orleans Saints. Even if Richardson is gone, the new rookie salary cap makes it more enticing for teams to trade up for a top pick since they won’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money. A trade down to get Montee Ball or LaMichael James and an extra draft pick also makes sense in continuing to build this team for the long term. With 4 years under Matt Flynn’s belt and minimal mileage, Flynn can provide long term solutions both on and off the field.
PROVEN QUARTERBACK: In four years at Baylor, Robert Griffin III has 78 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and has thrown for 10,366 yards. Impressive given 7,794 of those yards came during the last two seasons. While the numbers are impressive, those were at the college level which means there is no guarantee that will translate to the NFL. The only player to win a Heisman Trophy and win a Super Bowl is Jim Plunkett. Though the recent crop of Heisman quarterbacks (Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford) looks hopeful, history is not on Griffin’s side if the Browns choose to select him.
In contrast, Matt Flynn has won a BCS National Championship with the LSU Tigers in 2008 and has 4 years of NFL experience. Though his playing time has been minimal, he has proven he is more than capable on the NFL level. In just 2 career starts, Flynn has 9 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and 731 yards passing. While many debate whether or not it is the system in Green Bay, a system doesn’t provide a 67% completion percentage or 118 quarterback rating. If anything, his knowledge of a pro system only further advances him in terms of qualification for the job.
VETERAN LEADERSHIP: This much is something the Browns desperately need on offense. Matt Flynn has both a Super Bowl and BCS ring and would bring a certain amount of confidence this team hasn’t had in a quarterback for quite some time. Robert Griffin just prolongs the string of constant rebuilding at the position which has not worked out.
Bottom line, Robert Griffin III is a great college player and could wind up as a great professional. Still, why take the risk when there is just as much a chance he is the next Troy Smith, Matt Leinart or Eric Crouch?