ManningWatch: The Matt Flynn debate

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
4:00
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With free agency approaching, the Miami Dolphins are getting everything lined up to make their best pitch for potential free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning and unrestricted free agent Matt Flynn. Manning is expected to be released by March 8 before a $28 million bonus is due from the Indianapolis Colts. Flynn is the backup to Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers and is looking for a starting job.

While it's pretty clear the Dolphins will start top shelf with Manning, a Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Famer, Flynn is expected to be Miami's Plan B if Manning doesn't sign or his health is too big of a question.

But the AFC East blog has been getting emails and tweets from many Dolphins fans who think Flynn should be Plan A over Manning. Here is the case for Flynn:
  • Flynn, 26, is the younger, healthier quarterback. Manning turns 36 on March 24. The best-case scenario is that Manning has two or three good years left in him. But even that's not a guarantee. Flynn has the potential to be your starting quarterback for the next six or seven years.
  • The West Coast offense is the system Flynn is familiar with, not Manning. Flynn spent his first four seasons in Green Bay learning the West Coast offense under new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. The system and the terminology will all be the same for Flynn, which makes for an easier learning curve. A case certainly can be made that Manning is good enough to play in any offense. But he will command some say in the system and force Miami's coaches to adjust. The Dolphins don't have to worry about that with Flynn.
  • Flynn should be more affordable. Although Manning's contract will have plenty of incentives, he deserves to be paid like an elite quarterback if he stays healthy. If Manning's neck is not an issue in 2012, he will be the more expensive option.

Those are the main points from Flynn supporters. They're valid, but I still say a free agent like Manning is so rare that Miami has to chase him first. A healthy Manning makes Miami an instant contender. Flynn is still somewhat of an unknown.

The most important issue is the medical check. If Indianapolis releases Manning, which is the expectation, it will have something to do with Manning not being 100 percent. Miami, or any other team, would have to be confident Manning will be ready to go by September.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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