Flynn Dilemma: Pay him more than QB1?

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
4:37
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Our discussion on the Green Bay Packers' intentions, or lack thereof, for quarterback Matt Flynn has mostly revolved around the tangible issues of salary cap and negotiations. Could the Packers squeeze Flynn's projected $14 million cap number under their cap? And how confident could they be about a subsequent trade without violating the NFL's tampering rules?

What we haven't considered is the impact of assigning a much higher salary to the backup quarterback than the starter. The Flynn Dilemma includes this prospect: Flynn under contract for $14 million in 2012 while starter Aaron Rodgers is slated to receive an $8 million base salary.

Flynn
Flynn
Rodgers
Rodgers
That discrepancy would disappear the moment Flynn was traded, and presumably signed a renegotiated contract with his new team. So my first instinct has been to ignore this issue as an actual encumbrance to franchising Flynn. But in discussing the possibilities with various people here in Indianapolis, I've been surprised by how many times it was mentioned.

It might well be an issue for some players and some teams, but nothing Rodgers has ever said or done suggests he would succumb to the kind of petty jealousy that would make the temporary discrepancy an actual issue. It's well known that Rodgers has outplayed his contract, and as we wrote in November, it's only a matter of time before he gets a new one. Here's what Rodgers said about the issue in November on his ESPN 540 radio show:
"It's not something I think about. We were so blessed to be able to have that contract done in 2008. We knew at the time that was more money than I ever could have imagined signing for, and it was a no-brainer for me. But we knew if I performed the way I felt I was capable of performing, that by league standards that by the time I got into my third or fourth or fifth season, that I'd be underpaid by league standards.

"But I don't look at it that way. I look at it as I'm fortunate to make the kind of money I make and be in the situation I'm in and be with the Packers' organization. I want to retire as a Packer. They know that, the fans know that, my teammates know that, and this is where I want to be. I'm not worried about [a new contract.] We're still a few years away from me completing this deal, and whenever it comes time to make a new deal, I'm looking forward to maybe signing my last deal, playing it out, and retiring."

Rodgers is the Packers' player representative to the NFL Players Association, so it's possible he could resent the Packers using the franchise tag to get a return on a commodity that otherwise would depart with no compensation. But let's not project a reaction that we have no evidence would occur. There are plenty of good reasons to let Flynn depart via free agency, and this doesn't seem one of them to me.

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