I'm starting to change my stance on Matt Flynn. For the last several months, I've felt that having a good backup has a lot of value and shouldn't be discarded without much thought. Actually, I still feel that way, but I had a bit of a change of heart when I looked up Flynn's contract details at Spotrac today:
Matt Flynn's Cap hit-
2013: $7.25 million (2 mil guaranteed)
2014: $8.25 million (2 mil guaranteed)
For comparison's sake, Flynn's cap hit this season was only $4 million.
Seattle only has an estimated $13.5 million this offseason and that's before signing back our own free agents, among them Jason Jones and Alan Branch. Seattle also needs to have money on hand in 2014 so that they can extend Kam Chancellor (RFA), Doug Baldwin (RFA), Walter Thurmond, and/or Brandon Browner (RFA). The RFA option will really help as a short term fix, but the idea is that you want to have enough money to sign them all long term, assuming they are still worth it in two year's time.
However, if Seattle outright trades Flynn, that cap number would jump to $20.75 million, and would give them the ammunition to sign their existing free agents and draft picks while still having room to spare to make a run at a big name free agent. It would also free up a ton of money in 2014, which begins a string of seasons in which the Seahawks will have to start paying big to keep their team intact.
While I like this year's options in the draft, the WR group in free agency has a chance to be the best in years (Wes Welker, Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace, Victor Cruz (RFA), Dwayne Bowe, Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander (RFA) and Bryan Hartline). Some of those guys will be signed before hitting the market, but still, this has a chance to be as wide a field for available WRs as I've ever seen. Alexander could be a guy worth keeping an eye on if the Steelers get cute with his RFA tag- he's become an intriguing up and coming WR in recent weeks and could be a good low cost gamble.
There are some nice options on the D-line too. Henry Melton, Michael Bennett (remember him?), Randy Starks, any of them would be upgrades at DT and probably better than anyone in the draft for our 3-tech spot.
Problem is, to find the money for those players, Seattle would need to expend some contracts. Zach Miller is the most obvious option, but he's played well. Sidney Rice and Red Bryant are too valuable to risk approaching for a restructure. Really that leaves Matt Flynn, who's contract is a pain in 2013 and a problem in 2014.
And really, I think the FO designed Flynn's contract so that he'd have to earn most of his money by how he did in 2012. There is no way they signed him to be a $7-8 million a year backup for Russell Wilson.
So what value does Flynn have?
I think this question has missed the mark. It's not just about what teams will give us for Flynn, it's about what we can do with the money we'd save by trading him. If we released Flynn outright, that would probably give the team enough money to upgrade over Jason Jones with Randy Starks. That has a lot of value. The draft pick is just a bonus. And if the team trades him, they are off the hook for the $4 million remaining guaranteed money too, so it's even better.
The way the offseason is shaping up, I see 3 QBs that will likely get 1st round consideration this year, with about twice as many teams that could consider QB early (KC, OAK, AZ, JAX, BUF, NYJ). During the draft their will be a game of QB musical chairs, and when the music stops playing I suspect at least a few of those teams will make inquiries into Flynn. If Seattle gets anything in return, it's a win. If they get a 3rd or 4th round pick, it's a huge win. And frankly, I think Flynn is worth at least that much, just not to us as a backup.
Of course, if Flynn is traded than Seattle will need to find a low cost answer to replace him. Looking into the mid to late rounds of the draft could be an option (there are a couple players I think really fit JS well in that range). Pete has not shown hesitancy to start the year with an inexperienced backup, as he did in 2010 and 2011 with Whitehurst. He originally planned for Wilson to be the backup in 2012. So going into the draft for the next backup QB could be the most likely way this gets resolved.
But if Pete wants a veteran, there are options. Among them T-Jack, Vince Young, Tim Tebow (lol), Bruce Gradkowski, and- probably- Matt Hasselbeck (he'll probably be a contract casualty this offseason).
When I look at that and take it all in, then I remember how John Schneider has been so cold blooded with contracts, I think it's pretty likely that Matt Flynn will not be a Seahawk next season, and that the team will prosper from his departure- even though I truly believe he is a worthy starting QB in the National Football League.