Reliving the past as Seahawks pluck Matt Flynn from Packers
Coming off a disappointing season in which they finished under .500 and missed the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks found themselves in need of a starting quarterback. So they turned their attention to Green Bay, where a talented backup was stuck behind an entrenched starter.
This all happened 11 years ago, of course, when Seattle pulled the trigger on a trade to snatch Matt Hasselbeck from Green Bay.
Hasselbeck went on to lead the Seahawks to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth over the next 10 seasons, before leaving to sign with Tennessee. Seattle can only hope history repeats itself — the Seahawks signed ex-Packers backup Matt Flynn to a three-year deal over the weekend, with the sole intention of making Flynn their new QB.
Flynn had been one of the hotter names on the free-agent market following four years as Aaron Rodgers’ backup. Aside from how Seattle acquired Flynn, though, the similarities to the Hasselbeck situation are incredible.
Flynn’s decision appeared to come down to Miami, where former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin now coaches, and Seattle.
Just like during the Hasselbeck pursuit in 2001, Seattle came out on top.
“I figured if it got done today, I’d be a Miami Dolphin,” Hasselbeck told SI’s Don Banks right after his trade more than a decade ago.
“I thought it was all done with Miami,” Hasselbeck’s agent at the time, Vann McElroy said. “Then all of a sudden, Seattle got back in it. It was no more than a couple minutes from being finished. They were on the phone ready to accept the deal, and then Seattle called and made another offer.”
This time around, the shift was just as dramatic. Sunday, just hours before Flynn’s deal with the Seahawks broke, The Miami Herald reported that the Dolphins were “considered favorites” for Flynn after a five-hour meeting between the sides Sunday.
“He’s excited to be down there,” his father, Alvin Flynn, said by phone Saturday, before Flynn met with Miami. “He is very fond of Joe Philbin. He has warm feelings for him.”
The Dolphins are viewed around the league as the favorite for Flynn, and there’s strong mutual interest, but the sides need to agree on financial terms. Discussions are ongoing.
It’s baffling that this could happen to the Dolphins again, though speculation that they low-balled Flynn with an offer less than the three-year, $26 million Seattle gave him seems to fit. The latest miss by Miami just piles on what’s been a disastrous stretch recently for the franchise.
But Miami’s loss was (again) Seattle’s gain. Flynn, like Hasselbeck before him, has never been a permanent NFL starter and has not played outside of Green Bay. There certainly are no guarantees that he will be a Pro Bowl player — although Seattle would love to believe that his 480-yard, six-TD performance against Detroit last Week 17 was just a sign of things to come.
Even an average performance in 2012 would represent an upgrade for the Seahawks, who weathered a 7-9 2011 with Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst under center.
For what it’s worth, Rodgers claimed that whichever team landed Flynn in free agency would be acquiring a “top-15 quarterback.” Flynn has learned from one of the best in Rodgers — not to mention Philbin, who is the only offensive coordinator Flynn has ever played for in the NFL.
Seattle does not have to look far, however, to see how taking a chance like this can fail: Arizona gave up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a draft pick last summer for Kevin Kolb, then handed Kolb a monster contract.
As a reward for that move, the Cardinals found themselves kicking the tires on Peyton Manning as a possible replacement at QB following a subpar and injury-plagued year from Kolb.
Despite Pete Carroll’s insistence that Flynn will have to compete with Jackson for the starting gig, the Seahawks no doubt have higher aspirations for their newest pickup. They have reason to think big too, considering how well their last quarterback import from the Packers fared.