Green Bay Packers: Risk in Franchise Tagging QB Matt Flynn?
Now that the Green Bay Packers have re-signed tight end Jermichael Finley to a two-year, $15 million deal Wednesday, the focus has shifted from what could have been a messy franchise-tag dispute on Finley to whether or not the Packers will tag-and-trade free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Silverstein thinks the Packers will likely franchise tag Flynn and attempt to trade him away for a high draft pick or two. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King also speculated that Finley’s deal makes it more likely that the Packers would franchise tag Flynn.
Naturally, the increase in compensation from a tag-and-trade with Flynn—which could be a draft pick one to two rounds higher than the compensatory pick the Packers would likely get if he walked in free agency—makes this option very appealing. The Packers would also be receiving a pick or two in the 2012 NFL draft, not a 2013 pick like if Flynn walked.
But there would also seem to be a big risk in going down this path with Flynn.
For one, the Packers would have to clear cap space to fit in the $14.4 million a franchise tag would cost on Flynn. By most estimates, the Packers are currently at around $10-11 million in cap space.
Letting go or completely re-structuring the deals of both Donald Driver and Chad Clifton would get the Packers plenty clear of the $14.4 million mark.
If the Packers did tag Flynn, he would almost certainly sign the offer sheet—putting the Packers on the hook for the $14.4 million and forcing them to find a trade partner. If no team bit on Flynn, the Packers would be stuck with a backup quarterback making considerably more than their NFL MVP starter, Aaron Rodgers. Re-signing center Scott Wells and special teamer Jarrett Bush would also become tricky under the cap.
But here’s the kicker in the whole deal: The Packers won’t even ponder franchise tagging Flynn unless they have a handshake deal in place with another team on both the parameters of a trade and a re-structrured deal for Flynn—the two necessary components for a tag-and-trade scenario to successfully play out.
Yes, NFL rules are supposed to avoid tampering, which seemingly would become a problem considering the Packers have to tag Flynn by March 5 and that a trade cannot happen between teams until the new league year starts on March 13. Talks about moving players such as Flynn would be considered tampering until that date.
But let’s be honest here. The next week at the NFL Scouting Combine is a tampering fest, and there are plenty of ways to get a handshake deal in place without actually tampering. Depending on the language used in the dialogue, the Packers and team X can skirt the boundaries of tampering without actually breaking any NFL rules.
Then, with a deal agreed upon and a contract re-structuring completed, the Packers and team X can simply send in the deal once the new league year starts. Very little risk if done right.
And if the Packers can’t get a deal done before the tagging deadline? No tag for Flynn.
Packers GM Ted Thompson simply won’t risk $14.4 million on his cap for a backup quarterback unless he knows for certain that a deal is happening.
This is a different situation than 2008, when Thompson tagged Corey Williams and then received a deal from the Cleveland Browns that he couldn’t refuse. There will be a specific plan in place for Flynn to ensure the risk in this deal is as low as they can make it.
A move that would seem to have a lot of risk tied in doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. If Thompson plays his cards right, this could (and should) be a high-reward, low-risk endeavor.——————
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.
You can read more of Zach's Packers articles on AllGreenBayPackers.com.Follow @zachkruse2