5

March

Five Options for Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley

With the NFL rumor mill ablaze during the combine, multiple sources have reported/claimed/inferred/guessed/made up/straight up fabricated news that Greg Jennings was a candidate for the franchise tag (Jennings did not receive the tag after all that) and that the Packers were getting sick of Jermichael Finley’s off the field antics and on the field inconsistency are were looking to part ways with the tight end, whether that be from trade or ultimately by cutting him.
Both situations seemed a little odd to me from a logical perspective, so what I’ve done if come up with 5 options that the Packers could choose this offseason deal with Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley.  While Jennings and Finley are almost polar opposites in terms of their play style, I think they are intertwined when it comes to the economics of the NFL as well as the well-being of the Packers according to general manager Ted Thompson
  • Option 1: Packers do nothing; Greg Jennings enters free agency and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: This is probably the most realistic situation given Jennings’ recent comments and the historical inactivity of general manager Ted Thompson when it comes to free agent signings.  Jennings believes he’s worth $12-14 million and I’m certain the Packers disagree with that; while Jennings isn’t likely to get a contract average even close to that, he will probably get some higher offers than what the Packers are willing to offer.  On the other hand, it appears as if the Packers are still mixed on their feelings about Jermichael Finley; his up and down performance coupled with his off the field antics (such as throwing his quarterback under the bus), have apparently left some in the Packers’ front office sour.  Unfortunately, Finley also possess the capability to single-handedly break a defense and the Packers will likely give the mercurial tight end one more year to prove he’s worth the money.  Probability: Very likely

  • Option 2: Packers resign Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley plays out his contract: In essence this boils down to what sort of market Greg Jennings finds himself in once free agency starts; if it’s a very soft market, Jennings may find that playing with a star quarterback and a stable organization worth more than the slight increase in salary that another team offers.  The Packers lowball Jennings at around $5-6 million per year and he begrudgingly accepts. While it’s unlikely with a player of Jennings’ caliber, James Jones ran into the same problem when he entered free agency only to find no real interest in his services.  In this situation, Jennings’ resigning doesn’t put significant pressure on the salary cap nor the Packers’ capacity to re-sign/sign other players and the Packers let Finley play out his contract to see if he’s worth resigning next year. Probability: Likely
7

March

Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning Killed Packers’ Chances at Trading Matt Flynn

Matt Flynn will hit the open market March 13th.

The deadline for franchising players has come and gone without the Packers tagging Matt Flynn. While Ted Thompson may have worked hard to complete a trade that would provide a team with exclusive negotiating rights to Flynn, it appears that Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning ultimately killed the market for Flynn.

The four most likely suitors for Flynn’s services are the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. All four have also been mentioned as potential landing spots for both Griffin and Manning.

With Manning probably set to be cut later this week and the Rams officially auctioning off the second pick in the NFL Draft, it is likely that these teams were reluctant to commit trading for Flynn with decent shots at what they may consider better options. By agreeing to a trade with the Packers, the team that did so would be eliminating themselves from RGIII and Manning sweepstakes too prematurely.

It will be interesting to see which team decides to “settle” for Flynn and at what cost. Those four teams are the most quarterback-needy behind the Indianapolis Colts who will be drafting Andrew Luck with the first pick of the draft. The four teams are likely competing for the three quarterbacks, Flynn, Manning, Griffin. The market for these quarterbacks will get wild as soon as the first team makes their move, whether it be signing Manning or Flynn, or impressing the Rams enough to work out a deal pre-draft.

Many fans are upset and frustrated by the fact that the Packers didn’t tag Flynn and now the highest compensation the team could is a third rounder in 2013. These fans have been quick to blame Ted Thompson for missing an opportunity to snag more draft picks this season.

After the deadline passed, rumors circulated that the Packers were unable to work a deal with the Browns or Dolphins, forcing their decision to let Flynn hit the open market. If this is the case, it appears Thompson was working hard to get a deal done, but that the Packers didn’t feel the value they would receive was enough to take the risk of having to pay Flynn significantly more money than Aaron Rodgers.

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.

2

January

What Should the Packers Do With Matt Flynn?

It was to good to last…  Now the rest of the world knows that without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers wouldn’t just have a chance, they probably wouldn’t miss a beat.  With a 480-yard, 6 touchdown performance against the Lions yesterday, which are both Packer team records, Matt Flynn has perhaps become the most sought out free agent acquisition in the upcoming offseason.

Now comes the question of what general manager Ted Thompson should do with Matt Flynn; I think it should be apparent to everyone that Flynn has no place on the Packers 2012 roster, Aaron Rodgers is “the guy”, Flynn’s far too good to be a backup and it would be salary cap and team chemistry suicide to have both Flynn and Rodgers on the roster next season.  So should Thompson let Flynn walk with his best wishes or should he use the franchise tag on Flynn and hope to get something in return?

For using the Franchise Tag

  • Quarterback is the most important position in football: There no way to hide a quarterback, either you have a star or you need one.  And there definitely aren’t 32 starting-caliber quarterbacks in the league.
  • Franchise tag numbers will be lower than previous years: With the new CBA, franchise tags will be calculated differently then they were in the past.  While under the previous CBA, tag numbers were calculated as the average top 5 salaries at the position the previous year or 120% of the player’s previous salary (which ever was highest).  The current CBA  dictates that tag numbers will now be calculated as the average of the top salary at the position over the last 5 years.  This should reduce the franchise tag numbers for a quarterback from somewhere in the $16 million mark to something around $14 million (which is reportedly how much it will cost the Saints to use the tag on Drew Brees)  Also, the first thing that teams will want to do with Flynn is restructure his deal should be arrive via franchise tag-trade (a la Matt Cassel) to a long term contract, which would significantly reduce the cap number of Flynn’s contract.