The franchise tag deadline came and went with Matt Flynn, the Packers' backup quarterback, as expected, not being tagged. Now, unless the Packers reach a long-term deal with Flynn before March 13 (which is extremely unlikely), Flynn, at age 26, will become an unrestricted free agent.
Flynn is an attractive, though risky, free-agent target. But maybe there's less risk with Flynn than there is with Robert Griffin III, the rookie quarterback out of Baylor expected to be taken with the second overall pick in the draft.
A young franchise quarterback is the single-most important thing a team can have. A lot of teams are looking for one ‒ the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, etc. Flynn and Griffin aren't the only two options, but they're the two most available. Andrew Luck going to the Colts seems to be a foregone conclusion, and Peyton Manning is more of a short-term band-aid than someone around whom you can build a franchise.
If it's your choice, who do you like? Let's take a look at the arguments for both.
The Arguments for Matt Flynn:
• Flynn costs zero draft picks. Aside from which of these gentlemen is actually the better player, the cost of draft picks is the most important factor here. Draft picks are the lifeblood of an NFL franchise. Used properly, they keep a team stocked with talent and relatively cheap. You can't exist as a quality team without using draft picks well. To get Griffin, you're going to have to give up a bucketload of them.
• He's not an unknown quantity. Flynn has spent four years in Green Bay learning from the same people who helped Aaron Rodgers become great. That's invaluable. Tape of him exists throwing 132 passes in real, live NFL games. It's much easier to evaluate that than it is to evaluate tape of RGIII in a college system against college defenses.
• You won't have to wait on him. Some rookies might take a year or two or three to mature into a very good NFL quarterback. Flynn should be able to step in and play his best football right now.
The Arguments for Robert Griffin III:
• Griffin III's upside is greater. There's a reason that Matt Flynn was taken in the seventh round and Griffin III is going to be taken at No. 2 overall. As far as physical skills go, Griffin III is a stud. Flynn never really stood out as an athlete. His arm and mobility were decent, but not remarkable. Griffin's foot speed and arm strength are both phenomenal.
• He's younger. Flynn is 26, and Griffin III is 22. Both are young enough that you can comfortably build around them, but those extra four years are significant.
• He'll cost less. With the way draft picks are paid now, it's likely that whoever gets Griffin III will have his services for the next four years for about $20 million. Cam Newton, taken first overall last year, got a four-year, $22 million contract. As the second pick, Griffin III should come in a little under that.
If you're the GM for the Browns or Dolphins, which way do you go? This is the kind of decision that makes or breaks your career.