Matt Flynn holds the Packers' single-game passing records for yards (480) and touchdowns (six) - both accomplished in the 2011 regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions on New Year's Day.
As unlikely as it is to see Flynn's name at the front of an esteemed list of quarterbacks in the team record book, more improbable would be having the club's second-string quarterback of the last four seasons become its would-be top bread winner this year.
Incredibly, Flynn just might have the latter distinction, too.
Notoriously tight-lipped general manager Ted Thompson and, to a lesser degree, head coach Mike McCarthy weren't tipping the team's hand as they made media appearances at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 24.
"I don't talk specifically about any of our guys that may or may not be free agents, and I certainly wouldn't speculate on what our plans would be," Thompson said.
By not saying anything of relevance with regard to Flynn, the more Thompson has people in league circles convinced he will pull what was widely viewed as the unthinkable:
|Flynn eludes the
grasp of Vince Wilfork 12/19/2010
(David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE)
Such is the buzz after tight end Jermichael Finley, the presumed front-runner to be tagged, dropped in on the opening day of the combine Feb. 23 and personally visited Thompson to sign a two-year contract valued as high as $15 million.
By shifting their focus away from Finley, whose one-year franchise tender would have been a projected $5.4 million, the Packers will have to up the proverbial ante should they use the tag by the March 5 deadline. The decision purportedly boils down to bringing back first-time Pro Bowl center and recently turned 31-year-old Scott Wells for a sizable $9.4 million or making Flynn ostensibly the highest-paid player on the roster with the $14.4 million tender for a quarterback.
"Our policy is to try to keep all of our players, so we'd like to keep all of our players," Thompson said vaguely. "I'm not going to stand here and tell all the other 31 teams what I think about Matt Flynn."
McCarthy, conversely, didn't have a problem giving Flynn a recommendation to prospective employers.
"I know in my conversations with Matt he'd like to come back and play in Green Bay, but the other side of the fence is he's earned the position he's in," McCarthy said. "In my opinion, he's ready to be an NFL starter."
Thus, the wheels would seem to be in motion for a tag-and-trade to transpire at the onset of the new league year March 13.
Taking the calculated gamble of being able to jettison Flynn, so as to not be on the hook for that exorbitant one-year salary for a guy to stand idly by on the sideline, isn't without precedent.
Matt Cassel was all the rage as the productive fill-in for injured star Tom Brady with the New England Patriots during the 2008 season. Knowing full well Brady would be healthy for the start of the 2009 season, the Patriots used the franchise tag on free-agent-to-be Cassel and then dealt him and veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft pick.
Seattle Seahawks' Rocky Bernard pressures New England Patriots Matt Cassel (16) Dec 7, 2008
For that, Thompson undoubtedly sees a golden opportunity to recoup a significant draft pick - a second-, if not a first-rounder this year - by slapping the franchise tag on Flynn and then finding a new home for him. If Thompson were to allow Flynn to walk as a free agent, the best the Packers would do is get a compensatory third-round draft pick in 2013.
"Matt's had a chance to play versus New England, versus Detroit," McCarthy said. "But, based on what I see in the everyday classroom, practice field, he's ready. It's his time to play.
"You don't ever know if a backup quarterback can take that next step and go out and play 16 games. I know mentally he's ready, emotionally he's definitely ready, but until you play the position and go play those 1,100, 1,200 snaps, that's when you really find out. And, I think Matt's ready for that."
If indeed the Packers go the "franchise" route with Flynn by March 5, they would have to shave some money to fit the $14.4 million tender under the salary cap. So, the veteran duo of left tackle Chad Clifton and receiver Donald Driver could be cap casualties - Clifton is due to make $5.7 million this year and Driver $5 million.
And, of course, Thompson would have to be sure he has a ready suitor to take Flynn off the Packers' hands and ensure he's not the highest-paid player on the team March 13.
The Miami Dolphins are considered an ideal match, what with former Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin now the head coach in South Florida.
Philbin refrained from talking about Flynn at the combine but rattled off several desirable traits for the quarterback he would like to have running his offense with the Dolphins that smacked of what Flynn could bring to the field.
"We're looking for a great decision maker," Philbin said. "We're looking for a leader. We're looking for an accurate passer. We're looking for a guy who has excellent game-management skills ... a guy that has pocket presence and awareness, the leadership skills. Obviously, the stronger the arm, the more velocity, the better, but we're looking for a guy that can manage a team, lead a team, make good decisions in critical times and make some big plays when games are on the line."
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