The Seattle Seahawks looked like they had scored a big win in free agency when they signed quarterback Matt Flynn to a three-year, $19.5 million contract. However, the team didn’t really win until they selected Russell Wilson from the Wisconsin Badgers in the third round of last year’s NFL draft. As a result, Seattle has to move Flynn this off-season and continue moving forward with Wilson.
Flynn hasn’t done anything to deserve the boot out of the Pacific Northwest, he was just the victim to a phenomenal rookie quarterback stepping into his role as a franchise quarterback sooner than expected. Wilson won the job from Flynn in camp and went on to have one of the best rookie seasons in history, tying Peyton Manning‘s rookie record for touchdown passes with 26 and putting together a legitimate campaign for Offensive Rookie of the Year (which ultimately went to Robert Griffin III). This is Wilson’s team now, and his high-priced backup has to go.
There is the case to be made that a mobile quarterback like Wilson is more open to injury and that a capable backup is necessary to have, no matter the cost. But Wilson has shown an intelligence when he runs that minimizes the injury risk when he does take off. He knows when to slide and when to get out of bounds, rarely taking a big hit. He also shows an elusiveness in the pocket that helps keep him from taking big hits from defensive linemen.
Besides, if the Seattle offense continues to build around Wilson’s skill set with quarterback runs and rolling pockets, would it be helpful to bring in a pure pocket passer like Flynn if Wilson happens to go down? The transition would be jarring to say the least, and a game manager (sorry Matt) without Wilson’s playmaking ability is not going to get Seattle over the top.
Head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider recognize this. Carroll talked in his season-ending press conference about looking for a quarterback with a similar skill set as Wilson. And Schneider has no patience for players whose salaries outweigh their value on the field. Just ask Aaron Curry, Lofa Tatupu and Mike Williams how long they stuck around once their play did not justify their pay check.
So the team now has three options for Flynn. The first one is to trade him, and the team will obviously be exploring that option heavily in the lead-up to the draft after teams have tried to address their quarterback needs through free agency. Flynn’s most likely to be traded for a draft pick, probably for one somewhere between the second-round pick Seattle gave up for Charlie Whitehurst in 2010 and the seventh-round pick they got from the Buffalo Bills for Tarvaris Jackson last season.
Option number two is to restructure Flynn’s deal. Right now, the backup quarterback is scheduled to make $5.25 million next season with $2 million guaranteed. That is a lot of cheddar for a guy who took just 34 snaps during the regular season in 2012, and zero of them meaningful. The Seahawks will likely try and roll back his salary to a more reasonable backup quarterback number, like the $1.5 million that Brady Quinn got from the Kansas City Chiefs last season.
Option three of course is to cut him. Flynn would still count about $4 million against Seattle’s cap if traded or let go, but the team has shown no fear in swallowing cap hits to rid themselves of overpriced talent. The likelihood of this scenario depends on how much other teams value Flynn and how much Flynn (and his agent) value his services.
One way or the other, Matt Flynn can not be kept as he is right now on the Seahawks’ roster. While he came to the Pacific Northwest with a big contract and high expectations, Flynn’s time in the Emerald City has passed him by and it’s time for both sides to move on.