By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Have the Seattle Seahawks found their quarterback of the future in Matt Flynn? Only time will tell.
Did they make a shrewd move in acquiring the former Green Bay backup Sunday? Absolutely.
Flynn, the former seventh-round pick turned hot free-agent commodity, is as unproven as 26-year-old quarterbacks go. He has started all of two games for the Packers — granted, they were two very impressive starts — and there are no guarantees when acquiring a player with such a limited body of work. But what Seattle accomplished by landing Flynn, who agreed to a multi-year deal Sunday, is find a potential long-term answer without mortgaging their future in the process.
Flynn and the Seahawks agreed to a three-year deal, worth up to $26 million, according to ESPN. The actual contract is worth closer to $6-plus million per season, however. And if Flynn actually gets all $26 million out of the Seahawks, it will mean very good things for the franchise, because he will have hit a lot of incentives along the way.
And while it may seem absurd to call $6 million per year anything but an obscene amount of money, it is a relatively safe contract by NFL quarterback standards. Flynn is basically this year’s version of Kevin Kolb, the former Philadelphia backup who landed a big contract with Arizona last year. Unlike Flynn, however, Kolb was not a free agent, so the Cardinals not only had to pay him, but compensate the Eagles handsomely for the right to do so. Arizona ended up parting with a second-round pick, a Pro Bowl cornerback in Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, then giving Kolb a five-year deal worth up to $63 million, including the more than $19 million they will have paid out by the end of the 2012 season.
Seattle was interested in Kolb, but wisely decided that the price was too high. The prevailing wisdom was that Flynn would command a deal somewhere in the range of Kolb’s at least in terms of guaranteed money, but instead, the Seahawks, who were battling the Dolphins for Flynn’s services, got a young quarterback with loads of potential without breaking the bank to do so.
Flynn will have to beat out last year’s starter Tarvaris Jackson — “We are really excited to bring Matt in there to compete with Tarvaris,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said in a statement — but make no mistake, this contract makes him the frontrunner to win the job. When he visited the Seahawks last week, Flynn not only worked out for Carroll and general manager John Schneider, but also “wowed” them, according to a source, while dissecting plays on a whiteboard.
And despite Flynn’s inexperience, he is hardly a mystery to his new team. Schneider was a part of Green Bay’s front office when they drafted Flynn out of LSU, and watched him develop for two seasons before Schneider took the GM job in Seattle. As an added bonus, this signing removes what would have been a considerable amount of pressure on Seattle to pick a quarterback in the first round of next month’s draft. With Flynn and Jackson under contract, the Seahawks can instead use the No. 12 pick to take an impact player at another position to help make an already promising young roster even better.
This is a good signing for the Seahawks, one that at best could help shape the next decade for the franchise, which is what happened the last time Seattle snagged a Packers backup quarterback, and at the worst it will cost them a considerable, but not crippling, amount of money.
Even with limited risk, however, this is still a defining moment for Schneider and Carroll. No, this contract may not devastate the franchise from a financial standpoint if they’re wrong, but it will set the Seahawks back even further at a position that has been a question mark since Matt Hasselbeck’s last couple of years in Seattle. And for all that Carroll and Schneider have done right in rebuilding the team, they have not found a solution at the game’s most important position. They whiffed on Charlie Whitehurst, and while the jury is still out on Jackson, he hardly put his stamp on the position last season.
It is far too early to call the Flynn signing a home run, but it is a calculated risk that comes with a considerable amount of upside, which makes it a good deal for the Seahawks, who are long overdue to find a long-term answer at quarterback.
John Boyle covers the Seahawks for The Herald.