One of the options for the Browns this off-season should they choose to address quarterback in free agency is Matt Flynn. Flynn has only started two NFL games as Aaron Rodgers’ backup, but his most recent start was a record-setting performance that set the world abuzz. That can tend to happen when you throw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in a football game. For reference, this weekend in his playoff game against the same Detroit defense, Drew Brees put up 466 yards and 3 touchdowns. That says a lot about the defense that Matt Flynn went up against. Anyway, that’s a different discussion. Let’s assume that the Browns do want Matt Flynn and they have to deal with the Packers who franchise him in order to trade him. What might the price tag be?
First of all, the price tag for franchising a QB is, um, really high. Going into this past season, Jason La Canfora had estimated that the cost of franchising a QB would be $16 million. So assume that to franchise Matt Flynn will be somewhere in the same ballpark. The acquiring team will be on the hook for that, but in all likelihood it will lead to a new long-term contract that will be pricey. But what we are really looking for is what the potential acquisition cost could be for the Browns. There are three obvious examples, Matt Schaub, Matt Cassell and Kevin Kolb.
Matt Schaub wasn’t franchised before he was dealt, but the trade between Atlanta and Houston was contingent on getting an extension completed. In that trade, Atlanta and Houston flipped picks in the first round of that draft as Atlanta took Houston’s 8th pick and Houston took Atlanta’s 10th. In addition Atlanta got Houston’s 2nd rounders in 2007 and 2008. They selected Justin Blalock – G – Texas in 2007 and used the other pick as leverage to trade with Washington to get OT Sam Baker in the first round. Schaub was also given a 6-year $48 million deal, although it was structured as a 3-year and about $20 million deal on more of a “prove-it” basis. As always, we don’t really care about Randy Lerner’s money, but keep in mind that Atlanta was able to get Blalock who has started 16 games for the Falcons in four consecutive seasons and an OT who hasn’t been quite that consistent.
Matt Cassell is obviously one of the weirder trades. The Patriots franchised him after he helped keep the Pats above water during Tom Brady’s knee injury. Cassell responded by throwing for nearly 3700 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Then after the season the Pats franchised him, packaged him with 33-year-old Mike Vrabel and seemingly gift-wrapped the two players for former Pats employee Scott Pioli who was attempting to fix the Kansas City Chiefs. The Pats got a single second-round draft pick which they eventually used on Oregon safety Patrick Chung.
Finally, Kevin Kolb was traded from Philly to Arizona most recently. ProFootballTalk called deemed it a “huge bounty” that Arizona gave up to acquire Kolb as they sent a second round pick and 2009 Pro Bowl corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philly. Kolb then signed a five-year $63 million contract with $20 million guaranteed. The jury is still out on the trade as the Cards went 8-8 this season. In the nine games that Kolb played, the Cardinals won three vs. Carolina, Dallas and San Francisco. What isn’t out for the jury is that Arizona paid a high price to bring Kolb in.
So what does all this mean for a team that might be looking to trade for a franchised Matt Flynn? Who knows. Assuming the Browns are even interested in pursuing Matt Flynn, you would have to think a team like the Browns would have to entertain at least giving up Atlanta’s first round pick which the Browns acquired a year ago. I wouldn’t guess that the Packers would be looking for any current players on the Browns’ roster that the Browns would be willing to give up. So does one first-rounder get the job done? What if the Browns flipped their fourth pick for whatever draft pick the Packers end up with following their playoff run? Would that be preferable to just giving up a pick outright? If the Browns got Flynn and the Packers’ late first for their fourth, they would still be in a position to pick a couple of solid players if you believe in Tom Heckert.
I don’t know, but I thought it would be valuable to at least explore what a deal might look like. Unfortunately I’m not even sold on the prospect of bringing Flynn in yet. He’s had less exposure to the field than any of the three examples that I brought up above. Like everything else in this Browns off-season, we’ll see, I guess.