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Matt Flynn will look to make his payday in preseason

Matt Flynn will get his chance this preseason to prove he is a future starting quarterback.
Matt Flynn will get his chance this preseason to prove he is a future starting quarterback.

In case you haven't heard, the quarterback spot in Green Bay is locked up for the foreseeable future.

While that is great news for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Packers receiving corps and the coaching staff, it has created a roadblock for backup Matt Flynn.

As the four-year veteran enters the 2011 season, the final year of his rookie contract, his audition for a potential move at the end of the year will come over the next four weeks as the Packers go through their preseason schedule.

A seventh round draft choice out of LSU, where he won the National Championship in 2008, Flynn entered the league without a rocket arm, without the measurables of a franchise quarterback, and without the pinpoint accuracy of a player like Matt Ryan, who was selected third overall by the Falcons in that same draft.

However, Flynn excelled early in preseason games and was awarded the backup job to Rodgers over second round draft choice Brian Brohm, currently with the Buffalo Bills. In his rookie season, Flynn finished the preseason 27-of-42 (64.3 percent) for 209 yards and three touchdowns.

A year later he threw just eight passes in preseason, completing six for 63 yards. In 2010, Flynn turned heads again by completing 50-of-85 passes for 583 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, including a 304-yard performance in the finale against Kansas City.

His most impressive performance came last year in his first and only start to date, when he filled in for an injured Aaron Rodgers in New England and passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns in an eventual 31-27 loss.

The secret is now out on Flynn as a potential starting quarterback, and one executive in personnel for an NFL team even touted him as "the best backup in the NFL."

Unfortunately for the 26-year-old signal caller, he will not get a chance to start, barring injury to Rodgers, until at least the 2012 season.

"When Matt came in you could tell he had that extra quality a quarterback needs, the huddle presence, the leadership abilities," Rodgers said of Flynn, speaking with reporters on Tuesday. "His fundamentals have really improved. He has blossomed under [quarterbacks coach Tom Clement's] tutelage. And the talent has always been there, it's just understanding how to use that talent to get the most out of this offense.

"He got a chance to play last year and he played excellent," Rodgers added. "He's a very trusted back up and a guy who the organization has a lot of faith in. That being said, there's a great history of backup quarterbacks in Green Bay going on and getting opportunities in other places and doing very well and I think if Matt gets that chance he'll fall right in that line."

While the Packers are not expected to trade Flynn, it's a possibility if the team wishes to get anything in return if he leaves for free agency. While his trade value increased after the New England game and could improve further with a solid showing this preseason, it would likely be less than his value to the Packers as a backup, should anything happen to Rodgers.

With plenty of teams in need of a starting quarterback, Flynn is expected to receive a contract in a place where he can compete for a starting role, something he understandably can not do in Green Bay. This summer, free agent Tarvaris Jackson signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Seahawks to become their starter. San Francisco's Alex Smith re-upped with the 49ers with a one-year, $5 millon deal. Both contracts would be far too expensive for the Packers to match for a backup quarterback.

The Packers would be eligible fore a compensatory pick if Flynn signs with a different team and performs well, but that pick most likely would not be higher than a fourth round selection in 2013.

If Flynn leaves for more money and to compete for a starting position, the Packers next move to find Rodgers' backup would hinge on the development of Graham Harrell, the team's current third string quarterback.

"Graham's a smart guy," Rodgers said. "He's a talented guy, he just needs an opportunity. I think this preseason is important. He's got a great opportunity to make himself one of the 53, and I think if he plays as well as we all know he's capable of then he should be right in the mix."

With no other true quarterbacks on the roster, Harrell would be first in line to take over the backup role should Flynn be traded or sign elsewhere in 2012. The preseason will also be a chance for Harrell to prove he is capable of becoming the No. 2 quarterback in Green Bay in 2012. The Packers could also explore other options, such as signing a veteran quarterback in Brady Quinn, Alex Smith, Matt Leinart or Dan Orlovsky.

Drafting a quarterback to take the reigns of a No. 2 quarterback would be risky, but Thompson did just that in 2008 when he drafted Brohm and Flynn.

While that decision-making will take place a year from now and is still undecided, Rodgers believes the future for Flynn is clear.

"I think the next stop for [Flynn] is an NFL starter, I don't see why not," he said. "There's a lot of teams that need quarterbacks at the end of this season. If that's the course that Matt wants to go and the team wants to go, I'm sure there will be a place for him to play."


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