The more suspicious of Seahawks fans seem to assume that because Matt Flynn comes as a relative bargain, there must be something wrong with him.
And because coach Pete Carroll says Flynn will “compete” for the starting job with holdover Tarvaris Jackson, some question whether that implies the Seahawks don’t think Flynn is clearly of starting caliber.
Baloney. This guy is a significant upgrade that the team will feel immediately, and probably for years to come. And if he isn’t, the investment is not enough to cripple other moves later. Numbers being tossed around call for Flynn to average something between $6 million and $7 million over the next three years, which is low-range starter money for a quarterback.
The salary reflects a market disrupted by the Peyton Manning free agency and softened by a recoil from some big contracts paid to former backups, such as Flynn, who did not pay immediate dividends.
While the success of a backup such as Matt Schaub in Houston led to a big payday for Kevin Kolb in Arizona, Kolb’s modest effort (three wins in nine starts for the Cardinals last season) probably helped drive the price down for Flynn.
So, the Seahawks will have the services of Flynn for about half the price of Kolb, without having to trade a player and high draft pick to get him.
As for competing with Jackson, that’s an example that Carroll learned a lesson during the compressed 2011 offseason when he named Jackson the starter over Charlie Whitehurst before they stepped on the field – in contrast to his team axiom: Always compete.
Carroll said the obvious Monday: The team has off-season workouts and minicamps to sort through who starts. There’s no reason for the coach to identify a starter now.
But Flynn is the man. And you’re going to like him.
When Flynn spoke at an introductory conference call Monday, he couldn’t have answered questions better if they’d been scripted.
Of course he doesn’t mind competing for the job; he’s all about competition.
“Whatever my role is,” he said, “I just want to make the Seattle Seahawks a better football team.”
And he wanted to go to Seattle, he said, because of the family atmosphere he felt when he visited, and a very positive “vibe.”
Carroll said that Flynn was impressive during his interviews and workouts.
Most compelling, though, had to be the two on-field auditions Flynn had the last two seasons when he started for the Packers. He threw three touchdowns against New England in 2010 and then tore up Detroit last season for a franchise-record six touchdowns and 480 yards passing.
Having league MVP Aaron Rodgers ahead of him limited his playing time, but increased the value of his apprenticeship.
In four seasons, “I learned how to play football … what defenses are trying to do,” he said. “Learned just what it takes to be a starter in the NFL.”
And he learned it from the best.
The easy comparison is to former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who also was acquired from Green Bay, where he had understudied Brett Favre until 2001.
But Flynn is further along than was Hasselbeck, far more ready to step in and be the franchise guy. Hasselbeck had only 13 regular-season completions when he arrived, and needed almost a season and a half before becoming a convincing starter.
Flynn should not. Hasselbeck completed only 54 percent of his passes his first season in Seattle; Flynn is far more accurate than that already and should only get better with regular starting.
And Carroll made a point Monday that will be important in establishing expectations for Flynn.
“We never ask the quarterback to carry the whole show,” Carroll said.
Even with a rash of injuries to the offensive line, the Seahawks’ rushing game rose 10 places in the NFL rankings in the last half of the 2011 season when Marshawn Lynch turned into one of the league’s elite. Defenses from here on will have to set up to stop Lynch, which will only boost Flynn’s effectiveness.
Next season’s schedule isn’t out yet, but we may anticipate an interesting matchup when Green Bay comes to CenturyLink Field.
Another thing Flynn liked about the Seahawks when he considered his options was that it’s “a young team headed in the right direction.”
Flynn is the guy to take it there.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 email@example.com