RENTON, Wa. -- Former Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn may be the Seattle Seahawks' current clubhouse leader when it comes to contract size, but that is by no means an indicator of his future security as a starter for his new team. When Flynn, a free agent after spending four seasons as Aaron Rodgers' reserve, signed a three-year, $26 million on March 18 with Seattle, it set him on a path less certain than some with similar contracts around the league.
Not only is Flynn in the sights of head coach Pete Carroll's "Always Compete" meme, he's also in a parallel depth chart situation with Tarvaris Jackson, who fought though a pectoral injury in 2011 to play just well enough to keep his name in the hat ... and not well enough to keep other quarterbacks away from his once-assigned parking space.
"It's different because I know I'm going to be competing and I know everything I do matters," Flynn said after his first mandatory/voluntary workout session at the team's Virginia Mason Athletic Center facility. "In Green Bay, I kind of had the luxury of sitting back and learning and being able to take my time in the progression of becoming a better quarterback. Now I get to come in here and compete and get the opportunity. That's what I came here for and that's what I'm excited about."
"Who said 'competition' the most?", Carroll joked after practice, when asked who's in the lead. "Whoever said that word the most when they were up here getting interviewed, he's ahead right now."
Jackson, who won the job by default in a lockout-compressed 2011 offseason because he was familiar with the system run by new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell from their days together with the Minnesota Vikings, understands the fight -- he's been in that battle his entire career. Now, unlike his time behind the will-he-or-won't-he versions of Brett Favre, Jackson at least has a shot against a former Packers quarterback.
"It's a lot different," Jackson said of 2012. "Last year was so last-minute. When I got here I still wasn't able to practice, but now we're able to get in together and go through a full offseason, compete throughout the OTAs, throughout the training camp and just see where it lands. Last year I had more of a grasp of the offense being that it was such a short period of time that we had to get ready for the games, so that kind of gave me the lead on Charlie [Whitehurst]. But it's a lot different this year. I'm just here to compete like always and just see how things play out."
Jackson and Flynn aren't the only ones in this quarterback derby, either. There's second-year backup Josh Portis who has more of a realistic chance to get fourth-game reps in the preseason and little else. The X-factor this year hasn't even arrived yet -- third-round pick Russell Wilson, the height-impaired Wisconsin quarterback who led the NCAA in passing efficiency in 2011.
Carroll and general manager John Schneider can't say enough about Wilson, and IMG performance coach Chris Weinke recently told Yahoo! Sports Radio that of all the signal-callers he's worked with (including Cam Newton, Ryan Tannehill, Christian Ponder, and Kirk Cousins), Wilson is his favorite. Most draft experts and several NFL teams agree than if Wilson was a hair taller than 5-foot-10 5/8, he'd have been a top 10 overall pick. As it is, the Seahawks see no issue with throwing Wilson into the ring for the short and long term. He'll be in town for next weekend's minicamp.
"We'll take a good look at Russell," Carroll said. "I can't wait for this (next) weekend coming up with the kids coming in just to see him get on the field with the guys and see what he can do, see how he does things. I have really high expectations for him — that he's going to learn the system before he ever gets here. He's going to be able to be out here and execute. I just really can't wait to see him in our uniform and playing ball with us. We'll see where it goes. We've done everything we can to make this position as competitive as possible. It's a crucial position on the football team and we're going to do everything we can to figure that out as we go down the road."
The challenges aren't over for Matt Flynn. (Getty Images)A quick look at the offense Wisconsin ran in 2011 reveals when Carroll meant when he talked about Wilson learning the offense before he gets to Seattle -- the coach wasn't leaning on Wilson's estimable intelligence. Like the Seahawks, the Badgers favored a run-balanced attack with power-blocking and motion concepts that transferred to the passing game. What made Wilson interesting on his college film was his ability to throw consistently from the pocket despite his height, and his command of an offense that could truly be termed "pro-style."
Flynn said that the play verbiage is similar in Seattle to the stuff he learned in Green Bay, but of the new guys, Wilson might be best able to best superimpose his former offense onto his new one.
Soon after he was drafted, Wilson was asked why he will succeed in the NFL. "I think the main thing is this has been my perspective my whole entire life. My height doesn't define my skill set. I believe I have all the skills and I believe that you have to work at it every day. I know that I'm five-foot-eleven, but I have to stay tall in the pocket, I have to make accurate throws, I have to deliver the ball on time with arc and pace and just play great football — be great on third down, be great in the red zone and do all the things that I can possibly do. One thing I can control is my work ethic. I can also control my knowledge of the game, how I study and how I get into the film room and how I just try to learn as much as I possibly can to give me that much more of an advantage."
And there you have it. Flynn may be the guy right now, but he's not THE GUY by any means, and the designation looks to change through the summer on a very fluid basis. If he wants that title attached to his name, he'll have to work harder than he ever has before.
Like every other quarterback on Seattle's current roster, the only thing he's been promised is a chance.