When the Seahawks signed free agent QB Matt Flynn there was, predictably, a great deal of excitement as to the Seahawks' prospects in 2012 and visions of Flynn's 480 yard, 6 touchdown record-breaking performance danced through our minds in anticipation.
Obviously, though, Matt Flynn isn't going to put up that kind of production in every game - no one could - and potentially, he may not even win the starting job to start the season. As information trickles in, it becomes more and more apparent that the Seahawks took advantage of a slower-than-expected market to sign an unproven, potential impact player. That's what Matt Flynn is, really - after two starts, it's extremely difficult to project his ability to lead a team - he could be great, or he could falter and his deficiencies could be exposed.
All this, the Seahawks know. And, they paid Flynn an amount commensurate a player like that should be paid. At first blush, a 3-year, $26 million contract with $10 million guaranteed looks to make the easy case that Flynn will start and Tarvaris Jackson will back him up. "You don't pay a guy that much money to sit on the bench," many have said, not unreasonably.
So - to sum that up - Matt Flynn's salary in 2012 is $2 million dollars, with an approximate cap hit of around $4 million, if you prorate his $6 million signing bonus over the life of his contract. Compare that to Tarvaris Jackson's salary of $4 million in 2012, plus another $750,000 or so in cap hit for his signing bonus, and their compensation is pretty similar.
In other words - Matt Flynn is not being paid as a starter in 2012, though admittedly his signing bonus might make it seem that way. The front office doesn't see it that way though, and remember - Charlie Whitehurst was paid $8 million over the last two seasons.
Flynn's contract is loaded towards the end of his deal and is highly dependent on his performance. His performance incentives, from what I've heard, will be difficult to reach, and if they are reached and the pay is triggered, it's a win-win for the team. You've found a viable starting quarterback and you can start paying him like one, starting in 2013 and going into 2014.
It's a calculated move by the front office to put themselves in a position to cut Flynn if he doesn't perform after a season or two, without losing a great deal of money. As I said, his cap hit is very close to that of Tarvaris Jackson this year, which, not coincidentally, plays into the Seahawks' stated desires for a true competition at quarterback this summer and fall.
Per Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, on Sunday:
The Seahawks were the right place for Matt Flynn for a couple reasons. He isn't being counted on to play like he did in the regular season finale for the Packers. In fact, he might not even be counted on to start. My Seahawks sources wouldn't be surprised if Tarvaris Jackson beat him out, given that Jackson played pretty well the second half of the season. And the Seahawks still are looking at QBs in the draft.
As for Jackson - he's taking the news about as well as you can hope for, and is looking forward to the challenge. In an interview with Brock and Salk this morning, Seahawks FB Mike Robinson shed a little light on Jackson's frame of mind:
"He's excited about it," Robinson said on Tuesday. "He's looking at it as a chance to up his game a little bit more to show that he can be a full-time starter in this league and do well. So he was excited about it."
"He said, 'Mike, you know, this always happens to me and I'm ready for it to bring the best out of me.'"
My initial reaction to the Flynn signing was excitement - and in my mind's eye I still see the former Green Bay backup winning the quarterback competition and starting for the Seahawks in 2012. That said, I have to say that the Seahawks did a good job of creating an atmosphere where Carroll's competition mantra can play out and if Flynn falters badly, they haven't sunk too much money into their backup QB.
Carroll has made it more than clear that larger contract doesn't = automatic starter.No one is safe, everyone earns his spot.— Liz Mathews 710 ESPN (@Liz_Mathews) March 26, 2012
#Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson will be taking the first team reps, with QB Matt Flynn right behind him.Sorry for the confusion!— Liz Mathews 710 ESPN (@Liz_Mathews) March 27, 2012
Per a Pete Carroll interview - Tarvaris Jackson is going to be getting the first team reps initially, and it's his job to lose. It will certainly make training camp interesting.
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