Now that the Green Bay Packers and TE Jermichael Finley have come to a two-year contract agreement, Ted Thompson can now seriously consider putting the franchise tag on QB Matt Flynn. And I believe he will.
First, what are the risks if the Packers do place the franchise tag on Flynn? Flynn would be guaranteed $14.4 million once he signed the agreement. That contract would be $1.7 million dollars more than QB Aaron Rodgers currently makes. Plus, Rodgers will only earn $8.5 million in 2012, so there would be a $5.9 million differential...at least in 2012.
The Packers can't afford to be paying $22.9 million to just two QBs, including the higher amount to the backup. The total cap for the entire team is expected to be $120 million. You can't tie up almost 20 percent of that number with Rodgers AND Flynn.
That is why the Packers have to have a trustworthy trading partner who they can trade Flynn to after he is franchised. After the trade, the $14.4 million would be taken off the Green Bay books.
The Packers need to look back in recent history for a reference point. The New England Patriots franchised QB Matt Cassel in 2009 and later traded him to the Kansas City Chiefs for an early second-round draft pick. Why? The Chiefs had just hired Scott Pioli as the new general manager.
Pioli had been in the front office the Patriots from 2000-2008 and had worked closely with Bill Belichick on personnel issues. After the Cassel trade was made, the Pats were able to wipe away the franchise amount they had given Cassel, plus the Chiefs were able to sign Cassel to a long-term extension later on.
Thompson has three trustworthy candidates who ALL have obvious needs at the QB position and who also have key figures in their organization who have had close relationships with Thompson himself. That is why I believe that Thompson will indeed franchise Flynn and work out a trade with one of these three teams.
Whoever does agree to a trade with the Packers will have to work out the basics of an arrangement with Flynn and his agent on a new long-term deal. Only then will a trade be consummated.
Here are the three most likely trading possibilities for the Packers after Flynn is franchised.
With the hiring of Joe Philbin as their new head coach, the Miami Dolphins have moved to the front of the line in the pursuit of gaining the services of Matt Flynn. Philbin knows Flynn very well, having been the offensive coordinator for the Packers during Flynn's entire time in Green Bay.
Philbin and Thompson worked together from 2005-2011 as well.
There is also talk in Miami about perhaps going after Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, who looks like he is headed for a messy divorce from the Colts, similar to the Brett Favre situation with the Packers in 2008.
But Manning still has major heath concerns regarding his neck and would be a short-term fix at best. Additionally, the offense Philbin runs is not the same offense that Manning ran for over a decade in Indy. Flynn knows the Philbin offense inside and out.
Plus, Flynn has been very productive in it.
The Dolphins also may try to trade up in the first round to pick Robert Griffin III, assuming the Colts select Andrew Luck with the first overall pick of the draft.
The Dolphins have the eighth pick of the first round and the 42nd pick of the draft overall, which is the 10th pick of the second round.
Keep that in mind, especially the second-round pick, as the Packers discuss their options regarding Flynn.
Ted Thompson has deep connections with Mike Holmgren. Thompson worked with Holmgren in Green Bay from 1992-1998. Thompson was in personnel department, while Holmgren was head coach.
After Holmgren left the Packers to be the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Thompson reunited with Holmgren from 2000-2004 as the vice president of football operations for the Seahawks.
Thompson is back again in Green Bay obviously, as he holds the title of executive vice president, general manager and director of football operations for the Packers, a post he has held since 2005. Meanwhile, Holmgren has been the team president of the Cleveland Browns for over two years.
The Browns have three selections among the first 37 picks in the 2012 NFL draft. The picks will be the fourth, 22nd and 37th.
The Browns also may try and trade up to select Robert Griffin III in the first round.
John Schneider is now the general manager of the Seattle Seahawks. Schneider has also worked closely with Ted Thompson over a number of years.
Schneider first worked with Thompson in Green Bay from 1993-1996, when Schneider worked with Thompson in the personnel department with the Packers.
Schneider later joined Thompson and Mike Holmgren in Seattle, where he was the director of player personnel for the Seahawks.
Then, in 2002, he came back to the Packers again to serve as personnel analyst to the general manger until 2007. He was named director of football operations in 2008.
In 2010, Schneider came back to the Seahawks in his current role.
The Seahawks have the 12th selection of the first round in the 2012 NFL draft and also the 43rd selection of the draft, which is the 11th selection of the second round.
The Seahawks are another team that may try to trade up and select Robert Griffin III in the first round.