As Russell Wilson Leads Seattle, Matt Flynn Can Only Watch
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By Chris Cluff
Matt Flynn, QB #10
Hometown: Tyler, Texas
Experience: 5 Years
When the Seattle Seahawks take the field in Miami this week, it will be a matchup of two rookie quarterbacks, and Matt Flynn will probably be feeling left out. Next to Peyton Manning, Flynn was the most sought free-agent quarterback this year, and the Seahawks and Dolphins were the teams who pursued him most. While the money was on the Dolphins signing him because of the connection between Flynn and new head coach Joe Philbin, who were together in Green Bay, Flynn chose the Seahawks instead.
Little did he know the Hawks would end up drafting Russell Wilson or that Wilson would beat him out for the starting gig.
Flynn surely has wondered what would have happened if he had signed with the Dolphins. Would they still have drafted Ryan Tannehill in the first round? Would he have faced the same situation in which he found himself in Seattle, being challenged and/or beaten out by a rookie? Or would he have had the job from the start, with the potential to make it his own?
Flynn was a seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2008 and spent four years backing up Aaron Rodgers. He ascended to the status of the league’s No. 1 backup QB based on a couple of very good games in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, he completed 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss at New England. In 2011, he set Packers records with 480 passing yards and six touchdowns in a 45-41 win over Detroit.
He was set to become the No. 1 free-agent QB until the Colts released Manning and a massive bidding war developed for the future Hall of Famer. Both the Seahawks and Dolphins showed interest but were rebuffed and reset their sites on Flynn.
He visited Seattle first, then went to Miami. But he quickly decided he liked the vibe in Seattle better, and he probably thought he had a good chance to unseat Tarvaris Jackson as the starter. He did early in camp, but then coach Pete Carroll unexpectedly gave Wilson a real chance to win the starting job.
It’s hard to tell how much a sore elbow cost Flynn a shot to win the position. He had played well in the preseason, but Wilson had been much more dynamic in the exhibition games.
If Flynn had been healthy, would he have won the job? And if had been named the starter, would the Seahawks have come out of that first month with one more win? Perhaps beating Arizona or St. Louis with the more experienced quarterback? Would he have removed any doubt about the controversial win over the Packers in that Monday night game, which the Hawks won on a Hail Mary from Wilson to Golden Tate?
Those are all moot questions now as Wilson has firmly grasped the gig and led the Hawks to a 6-4 record, with the promise of more to come.
As the Seahawks get set to go to Miami, where Wilson and Tannehill will be the quarterbacks, Flynn probably is second-guessing it all.
As Rodgers told reporters the week the Hawks played the Packers: “It hasn’t gone the way he would have wanted so far. But he’s a competitor and hopefully he’s going to get an opportunity at some point, either there or somewhere else.”
So that raises the question: What will the Seahawks do with him after this season? Keep him at a salary of $5.25 million? Or trade him?
Most of the league’s 32 teams have invested heavily in quarterbacks over the last decade, and not many seemingly would be in need of a quarterback — or necessarily want one who has started only two games.
But here’s one thought: With Mike Holmgren interested in returning to the league, Flynn could be exactly his kind of QB — based largely on his knowledge of the West Coast offense.
What if Holmgren landed in Philadelphia as Andy Reid’s replacement? He surely would dump Michael Vick, and he might be willing to swing another quarterback deal with John Schneider, the one-time underling who sent Seneca Wallace to Holmgren in Cleveland in 2010.
That juicy scenario aside, other possibilities for Flynn might include Arizona, the Jets and Kansas City. The Cardinals need a QB, although the Hawks would be pretty gutsy to send Flynn to a division rival. If the Jets are blown up, Mark Sanchez could be sent packing. And the Chiefs seem ready to move on from Matt Cassel, possibly under new management.
Of course, the Hawks shouldn’t just dump Flynn for nothing. If they can’t pull at least a second-round pick for him, they should simply keep him for what should be a contending season.
In the meantime, Flynn has to sit and wait. And watch his two offseason suitors start rookies Sunday.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.