It’s going to be very difficult to trade Matt Flynn. Not impossible, but very difficult.
John Schneider is already trying his best to create a market. In interviews with ESPN 710 and KJR this week he admitted the team will listen to offers for the quarterback. He’s also — rather optimistically — touted a value of a first or second round pick.
The main reason they won’t receive that level of interest is he’s just not as good as some people think. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported just over a week ago that we shouldn’t expect a hot market:
“Everyone keeps bringing up Flynn, but what people forget is that last offseason there were only two teams, Seattle and Miami, mildly interested in him. He did not get near the attention many thought he would. And he didn’t play this season. His value isn’t as high as many people think.”
Was it just a coincidence that all the teams last year needing a quarterback — except Seattle — said, “No thanks” to Matt Flynn?
Matt Flynn was supposed to be a big offseason target. Most scouting departments still saw him as a backup.
— NFL Philosophy (@NFLosophy) January 18, 2013
I appreciate that things change. Just because a market was cold twelve months ago doesn’t mean that’ll be the case this year. But we’re talking about a quarterback who turns 28 in June. He has a grand total of two career starts. He’ll rely on a precise passing offense with at least some structure. You can’t throw him into a rebuilding organisation and expect miracles.
Not even his former offensive coordinator in Green Bay — Joe Philbin — appeared to bang the table for his services a year ago. Instead the Dolphins risked going into the season with Matt Moore as their starter. There was no guarantee Miami would be able to draft Ryan Tannehill with the #8 pick. They could’ve had Flynn as a cost-effective alternative. It appears they didn’t think there was much difference between Moore and Flynn — at least not enough to offer a deal like Seattle.
The recent trades for Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel will linger among league front offices. Neither deal worked out, despite the second round investment and subsequent big contracts. The coaches and GM’s that orchestrated both deals have all been fired.
There’s a growing sentiment that this is a bad off-season to need a quarterback with a number of teams trying to find an answer to the NFL’s biggest question. The thing is, you can pretty much run through each team that needs to find a signal caller and come up with a reason why they wouldn’t show much interest in Matt Flynn.
Buffalo — can anyone really see them exchanging Ryan Fitzpatrick for Matt Flynn? Talk about a sideways step. Doug Marrone favoured a big-armed, mobile quarterback in Ryan Nassib at Syracuse. GM Buddy Nix is already talking to the media about drafting a quarterback. Marrone’s old buddy Nassib will be part of the 2013 draft.
New York Jets — Mark Sanchez is guaranteed $8.25m in 2013. If the Jets bring in another quarterback, expect it to be a rookie on a modest contract. It’s unlikely to be a veteran like Flynn who is due $5.2m this year. Trying to sell Flynn as the alternative to Sanchez might be a hard sell in New York.
Cleveland — Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner favour a vertical passing game. They will not be trading for Matt Flynn. They might as well stick with Brandon Weeden.
Kansas City — This franchise spent a second round pick on Matt Cassel, who bombed. Expect Andy Reid to try a different approach, rather than repeating previous mistakes. It’s also worth noting that his three most recent starting quarterbacks in Philadelphia (Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick) all had plus mobility.
Oakland — GM Reggie McKenzie inherited a team with hardly any draft picks last year and he’s already reiterated there won’t be any more high profile deals this off-season. Carson Palmer wasn’t spectacular in 2012, but he’s far from the biggest problem for a team that has barely any structure.
Arizona — Division rival. Bruce Arians, to me, has clearly been brought in to work with a freshly drafted quarterback, just as he did in Indianapolis.
The one team I’ve not included on the list is Jacksonville. I couldn’t find any logical reason why they wouldn’t consider a trade. The decision makers that drafted Blaine Gabbert have all departed that franchise. Chad Henne is Chad Henne. It stands to reason that new Jaguars GM David Caldwell will review the position and look to stamp his own authority on that situation.
At the same time, he’s appointed a defensive minded coach in Gus Bradley. Jacksonville’s defense was among the worst in the NFL last season and that is likely to be the starting point of any rebuild. They have some pieces on offense — Maurice Jones-Drew, Eugene Monroe, Justin Blackmon, Marcedes Lewis. Despite all the hand-wringing about Gabbert, he’s barely had a fair crack in the NFL so far competing for a demoralised franchise. He’ll start the 2013 season working with his third offensive coordinator in three years. It’s not even close to ideal.
Caldwell was quick to highlight Gabbert’s youth and it’s important to remember that a lot of teams graded Gabbert highly going into the 2011 draft. Opinion was certainly split, but for every team that lacked interest in the Missouri prospect, there was a team that had Gabbert at the top of their quarterback boards. We can only guess what Caldwell’s impression was — he was part of Atlanta’s front office during the 2011 draft.
He may or may not get the opportunity to reignite his professional career, but the point is — will they be so opposed to Gabbert starting that they make a trade for a veteran such as Matt Flynn? Especially when they need every possible draft pick to rebuild a hopeless defense? Will Gabbert get one last chance, buying the new regime some time? If he fails, he was somebody else’s mistake.
There’s going to be a degree of ‘connect the dots’ with Jacksonville this off-season, purely due to Bradley’s presence within that franchise. People will assume he wants Flynn. He might do. Maybe he’ll bang the table to bring Flynn to Jacksonville? The thing is, we have no idea what his impression of the player is. We have no idea whether Caldwell would buy into any proposal, or that either man is looking for an offense built around a quarterback with Flynn’s skill-set. Bradley going to Jacksonville doesn’t make a deal any more or less likely.
Even so, the Jags are the one team I can’t come up with an obvious reason for why they wouldn’t make a trade.
You’ll hear many people play down the 2013 class of rookie quarterbacks. It’s not quite as bad as some people want you to believe. It’s perhaps understandable that the media and certain ‘sources’ want to be negative about the group. After all, when you have Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III going #1 and #2 last year — it’s a tough act to follow.
It’s easy to forget that teams and GM’s by nature love to draft their own guys. So while at the moment nobody is talking up the likes of Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson and co — there’s every chance the front offices of the NFL will convince themselves they need one of these quarterbacks over the next few weeks. Even if it’s not one of the top three, there’s every chance a Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib or even Tyler Bray could curry favour among one or two teams in the second round.
There might not be a Luck or RGIII to take with the number one pick, but there are plenty of young quarterbacks available in the draft for teams to get at. And while there’s no guarantee this will keep happening — the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks have shown in the last two years you don’t need a top-ten quarterback to kick start a play-off run. Teams will fantasise about mimicking those two franchises.
There’s also the possibility of trade competition. Alex Smith seemingly has no future in San Francisco despite completing 70% of his passes in 2012, throwing 13 touchdowns and sporting a quarterback rating of 104.1. He’s one year older than Matt Flynn, but he also has eighty career starts and his last two seasons in the NFL were his most productive.
His age and previous inconsistencies will make it difficult to generate a high pick, but he’s more of a proven commodity. He’s also physically superior to Flynn. Someone will be willing to give Smith a starting job I suspect.
Ryan Mallet is another quarterback who could generate some interest. I had the opportunity to interview Mallet in October and he appeared focused and ready to make up for the disappointment of a dramatic draft-fall in 2011. Having spent two years learning from Tom Brady and being coached by Bill Belichick, this could be the off-season where teams consider kick-starting his pro-career.
Will Nick Foles become available in Philadelphia? He’s hardly an obvious fit if Chip Kelly sticks with speed at the core of his offense. Would he potentially be available for trade after featuring in seven games in 2012? Would Andy Reid consider a deal for Kansas City having previously drafted the former Arizona quarterback?
With reports suggesting Tampa Bay has no plans to discuss a contract extension with Josh Freeman, could he find himself on the trade block? He can walk for nothing next year without a contract — and he’d have to play some spectacular football to warrant the franchise tag. Working on a trade this off-season could make sense if the Buccs have already made up their mind on Freeman. Of course, this could just be sending a message that he needs to improve. And if he was dealt, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would then need to find a replacement, creating another team potentially in the market for a guy like Flynn.
Overall I think these arguments out-weigh the reasons why a team would consider trading for Flynn. He’s still a largely untested NFL quarterback. The Seahawks needed someone before the draft last year to compete with Tarvaris Jackson. Let’s not forget — their first call went to Chad Henne, who didn’t leave the Jacksonville HQ without a contract. Signing Flynn was the right move to make at the time. But it was an unchallenged move as far as the rest of the NFL was concerned.
As I mentioned at the start though, a trade is far from impossible. It might have to be a creative deal. Perhaps they can make a move that takes influence from the infamous Charlie Whitehurst trade in 2010?
On that occasion the Seahawks dealt a third round pick to San Diego, but also swapped second rounders. The Chargers moved up twenty spots from #60 to #40. While I can’t see any new picks coming Seattle’s way (such as the extra third rounder) perhaps they could work something out to swap picks with a team in the second, third or fourth round? Putting themselves in position to draft a superior player, without actually generating any new picks?
That’s probably the best they can hope for and it shouldn’t be sniffed at either. If the Seahawks want to get a defensive lineman and a receiver (for example) within their first two or three picks, drafting earlier in round 2/3 would be a considerable advantage. One of the stumbling blocks could be that the quarterback-needy teams all pick at the very start of round two where there could be something of a run on rookie quarterbacks. When John Schneider completed the Whitehurst deal with San Diego, there were no obvious early second round quarterbacks to draft. This probably makes a deal like this more likely in the third or fourth round.
Even that might be a stretch for a 28-year-old career back-up (sorry, but that’s what he is). Those clinging to the hope of a straight out first or second round pick are probably going to be disappointed.
If the Seahawks do trade Flynn, they’ll need a back-up. Expect a veteran addition with a similar athletic skill-set to Russell Wilson. They could also look to the draft — and Arizona’s Matt Scott might be a later round target. His tape against Nevada in the New Mexico can be found below: