If they find no trade partner, would the Seahawks really just release Matt Flynn?
A couple of top NFL information men think so. Jason Cole and Peter King both have said they do not anticipate teams being interested in Flynn -- both basing their arguments on the fact that few teams pursued him last year in free agency.
Cole reported last month, "While Seattle has told QB Matt Flynn they are willing to trade him, finding a trade partner is problematic because several (teams) expect he'll be cut."
Cole added this month, "Flynn didn't garner a lot of interest last year as a free agent. Now he's worth more when you have to trade for him?"
King agreed, telling NFL Network on Sunday that he thinks Flynn will be released.
"There weren't very many teams that interested in him when he was a free agent, so I'd guess he would get released," King said. "I would be surprised if Seattle paid him all of that money to stay on the roster."
General manager John Schneider has said more than once that the Hawks can easily accommodate Flynn's $5.25 million salary under the salary cap. He told reporters Thursday that Flynn fits into Seattle's "primary cap model."
And remember this: Even if the Hawks cut him, they will have to replace him. If they replace him with a veteran (Matt Moore, Josh Johnson, Tyler Thigpen, et al.), that new backup also will make more money -- perhaps $2 million or so -- than Wilson, who is locked into his rookie contract for two more years. So unless they use a rookie to back up Wilson, the Hawks are going to be paying their backup more than their starter.
Wilson ($682,000) and Flynn ($7.25 million) are scheduled to count close to $8 million under the cap. If the Hawks cut Flynn, he still would count $6 million ($2 million in guaranteed salary and $4 million in signing bonus proration) or $4 million (if designated a post-June 1 release, which leaves $2 million to count in 2014).
Add in $2 million for a veteran backup, and Seattle's aggregate QB cap hit would be around $9 million or $7 million (if Flynn's bonus proration stays in 2014).
The only way the Hawks would save money is if they used a rookie to back up Wilson. But would they really want to do that?
It's quite possible that the Hawks will cut Flynn, but Schneider and Pete Carroll have made it clear they are quite willing to keep him. That might just be tough talk aimed at getting other teams to approach them about a trade, but they have shown that they are not afraid to go against convention.
In 2010, they overspent in a trade for unproven third-string QB Charlie Whitehurst -- taking a minor gamble that he could be the future QB. He didn't work out.
In the lockout-shortened 2011 offseason, they replaced the franchise's best QB, Matt Hasselbeck, with Tarvaris Jackson on a two-year deal and immediately named him the starter over Whitehurst. Jackson proved not to be the guy either.
Last year they signed Flynn to a starter-caliber deal and also drafted Wilson in the third round. Then they let all three battle for the starting job. Even though it was clear Jackson had no shot at winning the job, the Hawks kept him on the roster until late in training camp, when they were able to trade him to Buffalo on Aug. 26.
Whether they trade Flynn or cut him, the Hawks are unlikely to let Flynn go until they have a replacement. But even if they add a veteran or a rookie, if they can't trade him by draft day, it wouldn't be surprising to see them hold on to Flynn until training camp -- perhaps hoping to get someone to trade for him as the Bills did for Jackson last year.
Of course, Schneider and Carroll both think there will be interested teams.
Flynn was sought by only Seattle and Miami last offseason, mainly because three extraordinary talents -- Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III -- were available.
This year, Flynn is the No. 2 option behind Alex Smith, who seems headed to Kansas City via trade. No rookie QB is ready to start in the NFL, which means a veteran such as Flynn rates higher -- especially if he costs less in draft capital.
The Hawks should be able to find a deal for Flynn, but if they can't, would they really be willing to cut him?
On Saturday at the Combine, Carroll told John Clayton: "The contract is written so that we could (keep him). We're planning on it right now. We don't have any options in hand. But we'll see what happens. It's likely that some teams may take a look. He's an incredibly good football player. We'll see what happens. If (Flynn stays on the team), we have a great 1-2 punch and it will give us great security going through the season."