Miami Dolphins' Biggest Offseason Mistake: Not Signing Matt Flynn
Given that hindsight is 20-20, it’s easy now to find the ammunition to fuel an article of this caliber.
The basis for this argument comes in light of the move announced by the Seattle Seahawks earlier this week, that rookie quarterback Russell Wilson will get the start for the Hawks this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs in the all-important “dress rehearsal” preseason Week 3 game.
Wilson, a third-round selection from Wisconsin, impressed the masses during Week 2’s victory at the Denver Broncos. Wilson finished the game completing 10-of-17 passes for 155 yards and two scores.
It may have come during garbage time, but the performance of the rookie was pleasing enough to the coaching staff to earn him the starting nod against Kansas City.
With Wilson getting the start, Seattle’s largest offseason addition—quarterback Matt Flynn from the Green Bay Packers—will become the second-stringer. Flynn, 27, is entering his fifth season in the National Football League, with all four previous years being spent in the Packers organization.
Flynn has yet to establish himself as a proven starting quarterback, but he has shown nothing but brilliance in limited action. His most recent flash of greatness came in the final regular-season game for the Packers against the Lions. Flynn, who was starting for the resting Aaron Rodgers, threw a mere 480 yards and six touchdowns. In this one start, he became the Packers franchise leader for both categories.
The news of Flynn's demotion made me wonder if he could possibly become expendable to another team that's desperate enough to need a veteran QB.
Let's go one even further. What if the Seahawks had stuck with Tavaris Jackson as the starting quarterback and still drafted Wilson to be the backup? What if Flynn had totally avoided Seattle and signed elsewhere?
After all, no team's biggest offseason signing should be just a backup quarterback.
Entering free agency this offseason, Flynn had a couple of suitors who were after his services. There was always the possibility of taking a smaller paycheck to stay in Green Bay and hold Rodgers’ clipboard for another three years, but instead, Flynn decided to test the open waters of free agency and find himself a starting job.
Alas, there's the meat and potatoes for the argument that the Dolphins missed the boat and shot themselves in the foot by not going harder after Flynn.
Numerous reports in March had the Dolphins being the preferred destination for Flynn, who would have been reunited with his offensive coordinator from the season before—Joe Philbin. Philbin accepted an offer to become the Dolphins head coach back in January, two months prior to the start of free agency.
Should the Miami Dolphins have signed Matt Flynn?
And to help thicken the plot even further, Philbin hired former Packers head coach Mike Sherman to serve as the team’s offensive coordinator.
Just imagine how ideal that would be for Flynn. Your first team other than the Packers would include the former Packers head coach (now offensive coordinator), former Packers offensive coordinator (now head coach) and a first-round-caliber playmaker potentially on offense.
Not the worst scenario for a Packers backup QB to land in, is it?
Despite being the apple of Flynn’s eye, the Dolphins reportedly were low-balling the offers to Flynn, which left the door wide open for another team—the Seahawks—to swoop in and ink him to a deal. As a matter of fact, Seattle did just that when they agreed on a three-year, $19.5-million contract on March 18.
The numbers seemed like a steal for the Seahawks, who were paying basically a non-worn-out quarterback with incredible upside. This begs the questions: just how little were the Dolphins offering Flynn if he took a deal in the Great Northwest?
Miami stuck to the hard-ball strategy and struckout on Flynn. The alternative plan then was to use the No. 8 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft to select Ryan Tannehill from Texas A&M. Indeed, that’s what happened, and the two sides agreed on a four-year, $12.7-million deal last month.
Had the Dolphins reached down in their pockets and found the little bit more it would have cost to sign Flynn, the No. 8 pick could have gone to much better use in repairing a team with plenty of holes on offense.
The perfect example would have been drafting a franchise wide receiver in April. Even though the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up the day of the draft to take him No. 6 overall, Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State could have been an option certainly for the Dolphins. Another option could have been Notre Dame standout Michael Floyd, who fell to the Cardinals at No. 13 overall.
Perhaps the biggest reason to spend the first-round selection on a wide receiver and not having to use it on a signal-caller was because the Dolphins, months before, had swapped wide receiver Brandon Marshall with the Chicago Bears in return for two third-round picks—one in 2012 and one in 2013.
Marshall’s absence left a huge void at receiver, which saw the likes of Chad Johnson temporarily fill the need at wide out prior to his dismissal just a couple weeks ago.
Dolphins fans can certainly look back at this offseason and think “what if?” While living in the past does nobody any good, it certainly seems like the Dolphins would be in a much nicer situation right now with the combination of Flynn and Blackmon or Floyd, rather than Tannehill and Legedu Naanee or Davone Bess.
I’m sure the 24-year-old Tannehill will do something phenomenal in his first few seasons as a professional quarterback that will one day make me eat my words and have me thinking “how could I ever propose not drafting him?”
But until that day, I remain sold on signing a veteran quarterback to help bring a new-start feel to a woeful offense.
Then again, what do I know?
Brett Lyons is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials.
Follow Brett Lyons on Twitter @BrettLyons670.
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