5

March

Packers Elect Not to Franchise Tag Free Agent QB Matt Flynn

The Packers decided against franchise-tagging Matt Flynn Monday.

Packers quarterback Matt Flynn will be free to sign with whichever team he so chooses this spring after the NFL’s franchise tag deadline passed Monday without GM Ted Thompson slapping the $14.4 million tender on the 27-year-old backup.

Instead of taking the risk of tagging Flynn and then trading him to a quarterback-needy team, the Packers have decided to play it safe and let Flynn become an unrestricted free agent on March 13. Depending on how a number of factors play out, the Packers could receive a third-round compensatory pick in next year’s draft for letting Flynn walk.

Early opinions following the re-signing of tight end Jermichael Finley to kickoff the NFL Combine were that the Packers would tag Flynn and find a trade partner, which potentially could have landed a first- or second-round pick in exchange. As the process wore on, however, it appeared less and less likely that the Packers would go down that route.

The Packers certainly did their due diligence to investigate whether the tag-and-trade route would benefit the franchise, but the risk of getting stuck with a $14.4 million backup outweighed the potential of acquiring a top pick in the 2012 NFL draft. Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes more than $6 million less than the quarterback franchise tender.

The Packers also would have been forced to make salary cap room to take on a $14.4 million salary, whether they had a handshake trade partner lined up or not. There were ways to accomplish that, but the Packers are obviously in no hurry to make decisions on veterans Chad Clifton and Donald Driver.

The uncertainity surrounding Peyton Manning also could have played a role, as teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins—leading candidates to sign Flynn in free agency—likely want a chance to survey whether signing Manning once he’s released on March 8 is a better route than the unproven Flynn.

Flynn has started two games over the last two seasons, with impressive performances in each laying the framework for the interest in Flynn this offseason.

On the road against the Patriots in 2010, Flynn threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a close loss. Then on New Year’s Day against the Lions this past season, Flynn broke franchise records for passing yards (480) and passing touchdowns (six). He has a career passer rating of 92.8.

23

February

Green Bay Packers: Risk in Franchise Tagging QB Matt Flynn?

Matt Flynn

Could the Packers tag-and-trade free agent 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.