Matt Flynn is Raiders’ latest attempt to trade for franchise QB
The Oakland Raiders misfired badly in their last attempt to trade for a franchise quarterback. Beleaguered by salary-cap woes and an overmatched roster, they’re set to give it another shot.
Less than two years after trading a 2012 first-round pick and 2013 second-rounder to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer, the Raiders struck a deal Monday to bring Seattle backup QB Matt Flynn to Oakland — where he will be asked to take over the starting job from Palmer.
Palmer, who balked when asked to take a pay cut from the $13 million owed him as a base salary for 2013, likely will be traded by the Raiders to the QB-needy Arizona Cardinals for a late-round choice.
But the big news here, for now, is that Flynn is again on the move. After signing a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Seahawks last offseason, Flynn then lost a competition for the team’s starting job to third-round pick Russell Wilson.
Wilson’s subsequent success made Flynn expendable, though Seattle appeared set to keep the relatively high-priced backup around if a trade partner could not be found. Instead, the Seahawks will clear the remaining two years of Flynn’s contract from their books (though they’ll be on the hook for $4 million in cap charges this year) and will turn to either free agency or the draft to find a safety net for Wilson.
While Flynn ought to be excited to fall into playing time again, the situation awaiting him in Oakland is a rather dire one. The Raiders are coming off a 4-12 season, lost multiple players off their 2012 defense, and tight end Brandon Myers (the team’s leading receiver in ’12) and Darrius Heyward-Bey both hit the road in free agency.
Flynn also has not started a regular-season game since Week 17 of the 2011 campaign, and he has made just two career NFL starts. Last year, he threw all of nine passes, completing five.
It’s possible the Raiders will allow Terrelle Pryor to compete with Flynn for the No. 1 QB job come training camp, which would put Flynn back into a situation similar to the one he left in Seattle. However, unlike Wilson, Pryor has struggled to carve out any significant role since making the NFL jump. He played in three games last season (with one start), but major questions remain about his ability to run an NFL offense.
Thanks to that Palmer trade, the Raiders have just one pick in the top 65 selections in this year’s NFL Draft (No. 3 overall). Somewhere along the line, Oakland must find a few weapons with which to surround Flynn — their current pass-catching corps of Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner and tight ends Richard Gordon and David Ausberry hardly inspire much confidence.
They may then be a prime candidate to trade down to acquire more picks, should any other franchise be interested in that No. 3 selection. The added twist: With the Flynn trade possibly leading Palmer to Arizona, and with the Bills reportedly interested in Kevin Kolb, top QB prospect Geno Smith could slip. So, the Raiders would need another incoming rookie or two to drum up significant interest atop multiple draft boards.
In addition, Oakland must eat nearly $10 million in salary on Palmer’s contract, despite releasing him. Add in Flynn’s $5.25 million base for 2013, and the Raiders will be paying about as much to their QB position as they would had they simply kept Palmer at his original salary.
Will the swap pay off for an increasingly desperate Oakland team? A lot depends on what the Raiders can do to rebuild their roster from here … and on if Flynn is the QB who hit the free-agent market with steam in 2012 or the one who lost his spot to Wilson shortly thereafter.