3 Reasons the Oakland Raiders Smartly Handled the Matt Flynn Trade

Tom KnauerContributor IIIApril 1, 2013

Bravo to the Oakland Raiders for how they obtained ex-Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn.

A trade has been simmering since Friday, and today the teams reached an agreement in principle, according to ESPN

Here are three ways in which the team helped itself as it continues rebuilding under general manager Reggie McKenzie.


1. Added competition at quarterback

Going into today, the Oakland Raiders had only one quarterback signed to their roster: raw third-year player Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor showed some promise in his season-ending start against the San Diego Chargers.  Although he completed only 13 of 28 passes, his already-elite scrambling kept numerous plays alive, accounting for two touchdowns passing and one rushing.

One certainly can make the argument that he should start for the team this season based on his upside, his en vogue running ability and the team's probable desire to identify a franchise quarterback sooner rather than later.

And with Flynn in the picture, that mission gained much-needed momentum.






Based on its lack of public comments about Pryor this offseason (i.e., virtually none), the team appears wary of simply handing the reins to a still-unproven commodity.

Flynn is similarly unseasoned (141 career regular-season passing attempts, per NFL.com). 

However, two seasons ago while with Green Bay, he demonstrated enough wherewithal in starts against New England (YouTube) and Detroit (YouTube) to indicate that he can lead an offense that caters to his abilities.   

Unless the team makes the now-unlikely move of investing a high 2013 draft pick on a quarterback, Flynn and Pryor will be battling it out this summer.

This scenario should yield a number of benefits. 

Pryor will be pushed much harder to demonstrate that he deserves to be the starter rather than being allowed to dog reps out of a sense of entitlement.  

If he wins out, the team may realize it has its long-term starter, while having a backup it can trust (at a relatively low cost, too; see below).

If Flynn wins out, the team should have confidence in who will lead its offense this season while it considers its long-term options.





Pryor, meanwhile, could become a useful trade candidate (i.e., for the Eagles, as they consider who might replace Michael Vick after this season).


2. Saved money

As Oakland aims to become competitive in 2014 and beyond, a favorable financial picture will only help.

The team will save around $6 million by unloading Carson Palmer, according to the ESPN report. 

Those savings could be offset by Flynn's $5.23 million salary in 2013-14 (Chicago Tribune). That number would lower if Flynn accepted a pay cut, as the Tribune and other media sources speculated was a source of contention during negotiations.

Whatever the precise cash the team frees up with this deal, it will be a boon.

Even after the draft, the team will need to add free-agent depth on the defensive line and in the secondary, to say nothing of its less-pressing positional needs. 

UPDATE (4/2/13, 9:30 A.M. EST): An NBC Sports report late Monday afternoon indicated that Flynn's salary in 2013 actually will rise from 5.25 million to to 6.5 million (all guaranteed), while his 2014 salary will drop from 6.5 million to $5.25 million.  He also could receive an additional $200,000 in incentives

In essence, then, Flynn will be paid at least as much what he had coming to him through his old Seattle deal, just over different seasons.

These financial terms mitigate the hope of the team saving money this offseason due to dealing Palmer, though it can be argued that the extra $250,000 is worth it to secure the team's quarterback situation in the short term.

In my view, Flynn now becomes even more likely to start this season, based on the clear investment the team has put in him.

If Pryor beats him out, though, let's hope it's because he's that much the better quarterback, and Flynn isn't sucking down millions from the sideline due to injury or pure incompetence.






3. Did not jeopardize building through the draft

Considering his Green Bay roots, it's not surprising that McKenzie aims to re-build the Raiders through young, homegrown talent. 

Other perennially successful franchises like the Patriots, Giants and Steelers have followed precisely that method.

Which is why it's tough to blame those Raider fans on message boards and the like who have decried the concept of obtaining Flynn for draft picks this year and next.

Their sentiment went along the lines of, "Why give away anything for a guy who may not start?"

According to ESPN, the Raiders will give a 2014 fifth-rounder and a 2015 conditional pick to obtain Flynn.

That pittance doesn't harm the team's draft haul this year, which remains stunted by the team's ghastly trade for Palmer in 2011.  




In addition, the team will gain by trading Palmer to Arizona.

The exact compensation for that deal remains unclear.  Sports Illustrated's Peter King believes the Raiders will receive a fourth- or fifth-round pick for an unspecified season. CBSSports.com has reported Oakland will receive a sixth-  or seventh-round selection this year. And USA Today stated a swap of "late-round" selections plus a Day 3 pick this year could be in store. 

At worst, then, the Raiders will be allowed to draft to at least their full extent this year, with perhaps having a slightly lower pick next spring and losing a conditional pick two years from now. 

If Flynn doesn't start this year, that last pick could amount to little or nothing.

All in all, the trade is a fair gamble for the Raiders in light of the many ways they improve.

UPDATE (4/2/13, 2:00 EST): According to ESPN, the Raiders will receive a sixth-round pick this year and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014 for Palmer and one of Oakland's seventh-round picks this year.

It's not much, but getting anything for a player the Raiders had multiple reasons to cut has to be considered a success, especially if the team gets to move up a round (albeit, a late one) this year.

Arizona's conditional seventh-round pick next year is contingent on Palmer starting 13 games this season, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

This seems likely, in the absence of injury, so Oakland stands to gain a pick for 2014 after losing one for obtaining Flynn.  

Overall, both swaps still strike as worthwhile.


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