ALAMEDA, Calif. — Going from a playoff contender in Seattle to a rebuilding project in Oakland doesn’t seem to bother Matt Flynn much.
If anything, the Raiders’ new quarterback is embracing his new surroundings — and his new role.
With Carson Palmer having been traded to Arizona in a deal that was completed Tuesday, Flynn is expected to be Oakland’s starter next season after spending his first five seasons in the NFL as a backup.
He’ll have to beat out Terrelle Pryor for the job in training camp, and there’s been talk the Raiders are considering taking West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith with the third overall pick in the draft later this month.
But all indications are that the 27-year-old Flynn will be Oakland’s third different starter in three years when the 2013 season begins.
“I think that should be everybody’s expectation, whether you’re competing for linebackers, DBs or snapper,” Flynn said during a meeting with Bay Area reporters. “You’re expecting to win that job. That’s the mental approach I’m going to take to it. I’m here to work and I’m here to compete and do what I need to do to make this place better.”
The Raiders didn’t have to pay much to acquire Flynn from the Seahawks, sending a fifth-round pick in 2014 and a conditional selection in 2015 to the Seahawks in return for a player who’s been mostly untested since entering the NFL as a seventh-round pick in 2008.
Flynn has started just two games in the NFL, both while with Green Bay. He put up modest numbers as a backup with the Packers but gained national attention when he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a Week 17 game against Detroit during the 2011 season.
Flynn cashed in on that success and signed a three-year, $26 million deal with Seattle but lost the starting job to rookie Russell Wilson early last season and spent the remainder of his time in the Pacific Northwest on the bench.
Now he’s in Oakland, where general manager Reggie McKenzie has orchestrated a massive overhaul of the team’s roster and bloated payroll. McKenzie worked in Green Bay’s front office when the Packers drafted Flynn five years ago.
“We always got along and I always knew Reggie had a pretty good head on his shoulders,” Flynn said Tuesday. “Talking with him leading up to this process, it got me excited because he has a vision for where this thing’s going. He’s a big-picture guy.”
Some fans in Oakland might think otherwise.
Since the 2012 season ended, the Raiders have gutted their roster and rid themselves of the heavily backloaded contracts that have kept McKenzie from being much of a player in free agency.
Before trading Palmer to the Cardinals in a deal that had been expected ever since the quarterback balked at the team’s request to take a pay cut, the Raiders had already cleared up some much-needed salary cap space by cutting wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, safety Michael Huff and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. They also declined to spend on some of their own free agents, allowing seven-time Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler, starting defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and linebacker Philip Wheeler to sign with new teams.
Palmer was scheduled to earn more than $13 million for Oakland, though he agreed to restructure his deal down with the Cardinals once the trade was completed.
Flynn, on the other hand, will make $5.25 million this season and $6.25 million in 2014.
“I was hoping to get another opportunity,” Flynn said. “Seattle had told me that if they could find the right place for me to get another opportunity then they would look into it. Once this thing started rolling and once I started talking to people from the (Raiders) organization, I was wanting to get this thing done and get here.”