The immediate future of Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn was a hot topic all week. Nearly 11,000 of you had weighed in by Friday afternoon via our fancy SportsNation poll, and while more of you chose the "trade" option than any other, we should include our usual disclaimer about intra-division sabotage.
Indeed, you could argue that trading Flynn this summer would carry the harshest consequences of any option we provided -- and with only a modest upside. If the Packers stand pat and Flynn departs via free agency, they will be eligible for a compensatory draft pick. That pick might not be as high as what they could acquire via an open-market trade, but jeremym951 was among those who considers the difference relatively negligible:
"I doubt the Packers could get more than a third-round pick for him right now. They will probably get a fourth- or fifth-round compensatory pick if he leaves as a free agent, and I think dropping a round or two is worth having a reliable backup for a season with Super Bowl aspirations."
From the top, let it be clear that I didn't manufacture this question out of thin air. Flynn looked sharp in the portion of Packers training camp I covered, and those who have been at camp every day indicate Flynn has maintained his high level of performance. Check out what longtime Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Silverstein wrote this week:
"Maybe the coaches have scored it differently, but from a sideline view, backup quarterback Matt Flynn has had a better camp than starter Aaron Rodgers. Flynn usually plays with the backups and often runs the scout team, which are factors that weigh against him. Yet practice after practice, he's fearless in the pocket, on target with his throws and always calm and collected. If scouts from other teams were allowed to attend practice, they would be making calls back home as fast as possible. Film of Flynn leading a long second-quarter drive later in the half against Cleveland has undoubtedly circulated among teams looking for a quarterback. It would be nice to see what Flynn could do playing behind the starters...."
Illegitimati not-so-kindly suggested that we just sit back and allow Packers general manager Ted Thompson to handle the situation: "He knows better than any ESPN sports writer or commenter here how to run GB's personnel."
But that's no fun, is it? Sorry, illegitimati. If it were up to me, I'd choose the third option and at least make a run at buying off a year or two of Flynn's free agency with a short-term contract extension.
A team with Super Bowl aspirations might not want to take a chance with a completely unproven backup, even if they have a long history of developing quarterbacks like the Packers do. You could argue the Packers' Super Bowl hopes would be dashed regardless if they lose Rodgers, but with Flynn at least they would have a fighting chance.
Perhaps by the time we get to the end of this season, No. 3 quarterback Graham Harrell will be ready to jump into that role. If he is, the Packers could trade Flynn this winter, assuming they had talked him into a contract extension.
With a looming tour of unrestricted free agency, I'm not sure if Flynn would sign any extension that would imperil his movement. But the Packers would be advised to at least pursue it, even if it makes him one of the NFL's highest-paid backups.
Here's how Waldenfan93 expressed that argument: "You sign him to an extension and wait until you get more tape of him performing at a high level and use him as security for Rodgers. Then when then time is right you trade him and get a decent draft pick for him much like Philly did with Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb."
I've been wrong many times, but a summer trade seems like the least likely of the scenarios Thompson will consider. Historically, he has more often hoarded talent than sold it off. Thanks for playing and stay tuned.