If you’re a Wisconsin sports fan, you know there’s really only two stories circulating the sports blogosphere around these parts right now, and one of them has already been beaten into the ground in the last 24 hours (see below).
The other is the debate over whether the Packers should/will apply the franchise tag to backup quarterback Matt Flynn, allowing them to seek a trade and Ted Thompson’s most coveted asset as General Manager: a draft pick (or two).
One argument I keep hearing is that no, the Packers won’t apply the tag, because no team will trade for Flynn when they know they can get him without surrendering anything except lots and lots of cash come free agency. Obviously the problem with this line of thinking is that once the tag is applied, they can’t get Flynn through free agency. He is either a Packer until at least 2013, or gets traded.
The other obstacle many claim bars the Packers from applying the franchise tag to Flynn is the fact that he will be owed $14 million for the 2012 season, and no team will be willing to pay Flynn that money. This, again, falls apart because no team would have to pay Flynn that kind of money. When a team uses the tag to set up a trade, often what happens is the that wants to acquire the player will work out a long term contract with him before officially agreeing to the trade. In this case, let’s say the Dolphins want Flynn. Rather than trading for Flynn and paying him 14 million dollars this season, the Dolphins would work out an extension for, let’s say, 6 years and 48 million dollars (numbers I completely pulled out of thin air). They then would finalize the deal with the handshake agreement for a new contract in place.
So with those reasons out of the way, what is Ted waiting for? Tag him and trade him, right? Not quite.
As Tom Silverstein notes, the biggest obstance (and maybe the only one) preventing this scenario from taking place is the fact that in order to tag Flynn and have him on their roster at the $14 million dollar figure, the Packers would have to cut players from their 53 man roster to make room for that kind of money – even temporarily – or negotiate pay cuts for certain veterans. Likely candidates would be Chad Clifton and/or Donald Driver.
Knowing the way Ted Thompson operates, it seems highly unlikely he or Mike McCarthy are willing to expose players on their roster to free agency all in an effort to gain a draft pick. Should Flynn be left to leave through free agency, the Packers may receive a third round compensatory pick in the draft. An early second round pick through a trade would be a significantly greater reward, but at a significantly greater risk.