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.



Green Bay Packers Franchise Tag Primer

TE Jermichael Finley

Tagging Jermichael Finley is one option for the Green Bay Packers this offseason.

Starting today, all 32 NFL teams will have the ability to place the franchise tag on one player of their choosing. The deadline for applying said tag is Monday, April 5, eight days before free agency begins.

The underlying purpose of the franchise tag is for teams to have the option of retaining a player with an expiring contract if a long-term agreement can’t be had before free agency begins.  Unlike previous seasons, in which a franchised player would receive the average salary of the five highest paid players at his position, the NFL’s new CBA introduces a complicated formula that now controls what the number for each position will be.

For 2012, the numbers figure out as such:

QB: $14.4 million in 2012; down from $16.1 million in 2011

RB: $7.7 million in 2012; down from $9.6 million in 2011

WR: $9.4 million in 2012; down from 11.4 million in 2011

TE: $5.4 million in 2012; down from $7.3 million in 2011

OL: $9.4 million in 2012; down from $10.1 million in 2011

DE: $10.6 million in 2012; down from $13 million in 2011

DT: $7.9 million in 2012; down from $12.5 million in 2011

LB: $8.8 million in 2012; down from $10.1 million in 2011

CB: $10.6 million in 2012; down from $13.5 million in 2011

S: $6.2 million in 2012; down from $8.8 million in 2011

Since Ted Thompson took over as GM in 2005, the Packers have used the franchise tag just twice.

DT Corey Williams received the tag in 2006 and then was traded to the Cleveland Browns for a second-round pick, and DL Ryan Pickett got the tag in 2010 but worked out a four-year, $25 million deal shortly thereafter.

In 2012, it’s widely assumed that the Packers will be using their tag on one of three players: quarterback Matt Flynn, tight end Jermichael Finley or center Scott Wells.

Let’s quickly run down each of those options:

6-5, 247 lbs
2011: 55 catches, 767 yards, 8 touchdowns