Tuesday, April 2, 2013
SEATTLE — Matt Flynn was Seattle’s headline free-agent addition in 2012.
He became more like a footnote on Monday, traded to Oakland for a fifth-round pick in next year’s draft and a conditional pick in 2015.
One year after Seattle gave Flynn a three-year contract and a chance to become the starter, the Seahawks traded him for what is at best two picks in the back half of the draft. Yet there won’t be many people in Seattle complaining.
The Seahawks found their franchise quarterback. It’s just that player turned out to be Russell Wilson, the quarterback Seattle selected in the third round, not Flynn. Monday’s trade meant a fresh start for Flynn, $3.25 million in additional salary-cap space for the Seahawks and a tidy conclusion to the quarterback search that began as soon as Pete Carroll took over as Seattle’s coach and John Schneider was hired as general manager.
The Seahawks looked plenty of places. They acquired Charlie Whitehurst in 2010, turned the page from Matt Hasselbeck in 2011 and brought in Tarvaris Jackson. Then came the signing of Flynn and selection of Wilson a year ago.
Flynn was Seattle’s biggest investment in a quarterback in Schneider’s first three years as general manager. But even then, it demonstrated the team’s restraint. The Seahawks never invested so heavily in a quarterback that they felt beholden to start him. Whitehurst made $8 million over two years. Jackson got $4 million to start for a year.
Flynn was more expensive. The Seahawks signed him to a three-year deal and paid him $8 million last year in salary and signing bonus, but that didn’t mean he was anointed the starter. Wilson was not only offered a chance to compete for the job, but he was named the starter after the third exhibition game. By last December, there were no longer any doubts that Wilson was this franchise’s longterm quarterback.
That left Flynn in a limbo of sorts. Not in terms of his job, necessarily, as he was one of the league’s best backups, but in terms of his role. After all, he came to Seattle hoping to start, and his only chance at playing time this season would have come with an injury to Wilson.
The trade saves Seattle from covering Flynn’s salary, which was scheduled to be $5.25 million, and gives the Seahawks two future draft picks. It also creates a vacancy at backup quarterback, and Seattle will fill that with a player who knows he’s coming to be the backup.
In Oakland, Flynn will get a chance similar to the one he received in Seattle last year.
He will get the opportunity to compete to be a starter with the Raiders, said Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie in the team’s announcement of the trade.
There are more parallels in Flynn’s latest move. McKenzie, like Schneider, is a former Packers executive. In fact, McKenzie was in Green Bay along with Schneider when the Packers drafted Flynn in the seventh round out of LSU in 2007 and watched as he beat out second-round pick Brian Brohm to be Aaron Rodgers’ backup.
“(I) scouted him before and after he entered the NFL,” McKenzie said. “Matt is a tough football player, and a talented quarterback.”
Flynn will likely be competing with Terrelle Pryor, the former Ohio State quarterback the Raiders chose in the supplemental draft in 2011. Carson Palmer was Oakland’s starter last year. He was scheduled to make $13 million this year, but declined to take a pay cut and many expect he will be traded to Arizona.
Tyler Thigpen, who played for the Bills, has been mentioned as a potential target for Seattle’s backup job. So has Matt Leinart, who played for Carroll at USC and was with Oakland last year. Leinart was offered a chance to sign with Seattle in 2011, but opted to re-sign as Houston’s backup.