By John Boyle Herald Writer
The Seattle Seahawks signed Matt Flynn last year thinking he might be their quarterback of the future. A year later, they’re on the verge of moving the quarterback with an eye on improving a future that won’t include Flynn.
According to multiple reports, the Seahawks are close to a deal that will send Flynn to Oakland, presumably for draft picks. The deal was not finalized Friday and therefore not announced by the teams, but ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that a trade with an unknown team was “imminent.” Shortly thereafter, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported that the Seahawks and Raiders were putting the finishing touches on a deal.
The deal could involve a mid-to-late round pick this year and a conditional pick next year, or picks in the 2014 and 2015 drafts. Another possibility is the Seahawks swapping picks with Oakland to improve their draft position.
Flynn came to Seattle as the front-runner to become the starting quarterback after years of backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. However, Russell Wilson turned out to be the surprise winner of last year’s quarterback competition, and it didn’t take long for Wilson to make it clear the job will be his for a long time.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider made it clear throughout the offseason that they were comfortable keeping Flynn as a backup, and had the cap space to do so. They also admitted they would listen to trade offers for him.
“To have a caliber of second quarterback like Matt, you can’t get better than that,” Carroll told reporters at January’s scouting combine. “That’s a great deal for us. And so we’re very solidly in favor of keeping that together if we could.”
Things have changed since Carroll said that. The Seahawks spent big to acquire Percy Harvin, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Seattle can still afford Matt Flynn’s $5.25 million salary this season and be under the salary cap, but with so many young, key players due to get raises in the next few years, clearing some future cap space makes sense for the Seahawks.
Safety Kam Chancellor is a free agent after this season, and the Seahawks already have been talking with him about a contract extension. Also in his final year is receiver Golden Tate, though the addition of Harvin makes it less likely the Seahawks will extend Tate an offer ahead of time. Safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman are both free agents after the 2014 season, which means the Seahawks might want to extend one or both of them at this time next year.
Trading Flynn clears up $3.25 million in cap space this season for the Seahawks. If they are under the cap in 2013, which they likely will be, they can roll that unused cap space into 2014. Had the Seahawks kept Flynn as their backup for another season then traded him or cut him a year from now, they would have taken a $2 million cap hit in 2014, according to Brian McIntyre of Yahoo! Sports.
So, that’s potentially $5.25 million the Seahawks can put towards extending player contracts a year from now that they wouldn’t have had available if Flynn were on the roster this season.
Those savings, along with whatever draft compensation Seattle gets, apparently were enough for the Seahawks to feel comfortable parting ways with a very good insurance policy at the game’s most important position. And while taking care of the Seahawks’ future has to be Carroll and Schneider’s first order of business, there also was likely an element of them wanting to give Flynn a chance to be a starter, something he wasn’t able to do in Seattle.
“I’ll forever regret the fact that we never got to chance to see him play very much,” Carroll said during his year-end press conference. “Everything he did was on point. Russell just never let it happen.”