INDIANAPOLIS — It's been fun discussing the idea of the Green Bay Packers using their franchise tag on quarterback Matt Flynn, especially after they signed tight end Jermichael Finley without using the tag on him.
The opportunity technically will exist until the March 5 deadline, and general manager Ted Thompson refused to rule out the possibility Friday. But I'm totally on board with this post from Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. It continues to be much more likely that Flynn will depart via free agency rather than be tagged as a franchise player and ultimately traded.
Thompson has been involved in with several instances of trading a franchised player, from receiver Joey Galloway when he worked for the Seattle Seahawks in 2000 to former Packers defensive tackle Corey Williams in 2008. But those instances were different. Galloway had been a holdout, and the Packers weren't willing to meet Williams' financial demands for a long-term contract.
Flynn is a longtime backup who projects as a backup for the Packers in 2012 but a possible starter elsewhere. Franchising him would violate the spirit of the NFL's franchise rules, and a source told Wilde: "[The Packers] don't do business that way."
As we've discussed, the Packers would realize a minimal gain and face significant risk if they franchised Flynn. They figure to receive a third-round compensatory pick in 2013 if he departs via free agency, while a trade could bring them a second-round pick.
The Packers would temporarily have to clear $14 million in salary cap space, and they would have to feel confident about their trade prospects will navigating NFL tampering rules that prohibit trade discussions during this time period. Otherwise, they would risk having Flynn stuck on their roster at a salary some $6 million higher than starter Aaron Rodgers.
We've learned our lesson about assuming the Packers' plans and likely path this offseason. Few of us thought a Finley agreement would come early enough to make the Flynn/franchise discussion even a remote possibility. But based on all the evidence, that's all it is: Remote.