Seahawks get Matt Flynn at right price, but is he the right quarterback?
Matt Flynn will only cost the Seahawks $10 million guaranteed, but whether he can produce positive results remains to be seen.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Well, though it took them longer than expected, the Seahawks have committed to a quarterback.
Don't be alarmed if they're just as excited that they got a good deal on the engagement ring.
The signing of Green Bay backup quarterback Matt Flynn is a major and potentially fortune-shifting acquisition. The Seahawks have needed a young quarterback to build around for the past four years, and if Flynn refines the talent he has shown in flashes, the team will turn into a true contender shortly. While there are dangerous unknowns about a 26-year-old who has thrown only 132 passes in his NFL career, it's a worthwhile risk if you're only focused on the upside.
But here's what makes it a shrewd gamble and the best free-agent acquisition of a Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime: the price tag.
Flynn's deal, according to multiple reports: Three years, $26 million, $10 million of which is guaranteed. For the Seahawks, it's as fair as it gets.
The contract is significantly smaller than the deals of three recent backups who left for starting jobs: Arizona's Kevin Kolb ($26.5 million guaranteed), Kansas City's Matt Cassel ($28 million guaranteed, but place an asterisk because before his payday, he started an entire season in place of injured Tom Brady) and Houston's Matt Schaub ($21 million in first three years of contract).
Why so reasonable for Flynn? Every free-agency period or trade season is different. For certain, the Peyton Manning sweepstakes kept teams from entering a bidding war for Flynn. And Flynn has limitations, including an average arm, average athleticism and slightly below-average height at 6 feet 2.
But there's plenty to like about him, too, especially when it comes to accuracy, leadership potential, football IQ and his production in small doses. Flynn put up a ridiculous 124.8 passer rating in only 49 pass attempts last season. He has made only two career starts, but he looked good in both of them, including a 480-yard, six-touchdown performance against Detroit in the 2011 regular-season finale.
You can't judge Flynn for what he hasn't done because he hasn't received an opportunity with Aaron Rodgers entrenched in Green Bay. But you should be able to look at the small sample size and recognize his talent. The passer rating for his mini-career is 92.8. Put talent around him, and there's reason to believe Flynn can be a high-functioning quarterback in Carroll's defense-oriented, run game-centric style of play.
He's not the next Drew Brees, but in terms of available quarterbacks this offseason, Flynn is clearly among the best options that currently aren't NFL starters. That list would include NFL draft picks-to-be Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. While Flynn doesn't have their star potential, he's also easier to project, and the Seahawks didn't have to trade any assets to acquire him. And he's not making Kolb money, which means his contract won't cripple the franchise if he doesn't pan out.
Love Flynn? It's too early to know.
Love the Flynn signing? Absolutely.
This is a dream scenario considering the way the Seahawks operate now. Carroll and Schneider had made it obvious over the past two-plus years that they weren't going to become desperate in their search for a quarterback. One bad quarterback commitment can set a franchise back a half decade, if not longer. The Seahawks have been methodical, almost annoyingly so, in their attempt to solve this issue.
Now, if Flynn plays well, they have a good quarterback who is young enough to grow with this rapidly-developing team. And if Flynn isn't the guy, they can move on without a disastrous salary-cap problem because they overpaid the wrong quarterback.
For now, Flynn is the item on the clothing rack that you can't believe is so affordable. It looks good on you in the store. It's the one piece you needed to make your wardrobe snazzy. Friends will be jealous, you think. What a deal.
The only question about Flynn is something that you won't know until later: Right price or right purchase?
The hope is both, but you never know. The Seahawks still don't have the prototypical quarterback with a big arm, but Carroll has always said he's adaptable. The Seahawks have certainly tested that theory during his brief Seahawks tenure with the motley, revolving quarterback crew of Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst, Jackson and now Flynn.
But they have found an option with potential staying power. They have made a commitment to Flynn. They could wiggle out of it without much pain, but they have made a commitment.
And so the initial reaction boils down to two quick thoughts.
It's about time.
And you paid what?!?!?!
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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