I'm sure some of you would have commended the Green Bay Packers for placing the franchise tag on backup quarterback Matt Flynn. You would have applauded general manager Ted Thompson for seeking maximum return at a premium position as well as a reward for the time spent developing him over the past four years.
The rest of us would have wondered why Thompson took a risk that offered minimal reward and wondered if greed hadn't gotten the best of him. The Packers did the right thing Monday, allowing the NFL deadline for franchising players to pass, apparently without using theirs on Flynn or anyone else. The difference between tagging Flynn and letting him depart via free agency simply wasn't worth the trouble.
Flynn's exit should net the Packers a third-round compensatory pick in 2012. The best the Packers could have hoped for in a trade, I think, is a second-round pick in 2011. In their realistic dreams, then, the Packers could have improved their pick by a year and perhaps 60 slots in the draft order.
Is that enough of a payback for the risk that would have gone into franchising Flynn and then trading him? I don't think so, and apparently neither did Thompson.
As we've discussed many times, the Packers would have had to clear $14 million in cap space to temporarily house Flynn, even if it were only for a day after the March 13 opening of free agency. They also would have had to be certain, by Monday, that a trade market would develop and the NFL officially prohibits trade discussions during this time period. Flynn almost certainly would have signed the tender, meaning the Packers would have been stuck paying a backup quarterback $14 million if they couldn't find a trade partner.
Flynn is one of the top quarterbacks available this offseason, but at least some teams would have lost interest if they were required to part with a second-round pick on top of signing him to a new contract that would average perhaps $9 million or $10 million per year. The Packers put a lot more time and money into Flynn than they'll ultimately get out of him, but that's no one's fault. It's the business, and now they'll move on to their next project.