BY SPNW Staff 10:27AM 03/15/2012

Should The Seahawks Gamble On Matt Flynn?

The Seattle Seahawks are one of a number of teams interested in signing ex-Green Bay Packers backup QB Matt Flynn. Among the others: Mike Holmgren’s Cleveland Browns.

Matt Flynn has made only two NFL starts, but he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in most recent one, Jan. 1, 2012. / Wiki Commons

Rebuked by Peyton Manning, whose “Final Four” apparently includes Tennessee, Miami, Denver and Arizona (projected “Terrific Two” are the Titans and Dolphins), the Seahawks this week will re-focus their quarterback lust on career backup Matt Flynn (ex-Green Bay), who will be given the royal treatment Thursday at Seahawks’ headquarters.

The Seahawks had been expected to also entertain Chad Henne (ex-Miami), by far the more experienced of the two, but Henne gummed the works by agreeing to a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Wednesday night.

Flynn has played in almost the same number of games — 34 — as Henne (36) but has made just two starts to Henne’s 31. In Flynn’s case, those starts are more help than hindrance. Subbing for a concussed Aaron Rodgers, Flynn withstood five sacks and threw for 251 yards and 3 TDs Dec. 19, 2010, nearly engineering an upset of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. He completed passes to 10 different receivers, notching a 100.2 passer rating.

Slightly more than a year later, Jan. 1, 2012, Flynn reduced, at least for one game, Bart Starr, Don Majkowski, Brett Favre, Rodgers and all others who have accepted Packer snaps, to statistical afterthoughts.

With Rodgers held out in order to rest him for the postseason (for all the good it did), Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns, both franchise records, including the game winner with 1:10 remaining. Four of Flynn’s six TDs traveled 35 yards or more, he connected with eight receivers, and registered a whopping 136.4 passer rating.

(It’s worth noting that Flynn’s record-breaking performance came against a vulnerable Lions secondary which was also gobbled alive one week later by New Orleans’ Drew Brees in the playoffs.)

So in his two career starts, career backup Flynn has completed 55 of 81 passes (68 percent) for 731 yards and a 9-2 TD-interception ratio. The Seahawks, Dolphins and Browns, among the competing teams for Flynn’s services, now have to decide whether Flynn’s “body of work” is worthy of offering him a fortune.

Flynn comes from the NFL quarterback draft class of 2008. Draftniks at the time were wildly divided on Flynn, who played at LSU. A few had him as a first or second rounder, some as an seventh-round pick.

The most encouraging assessment came from a College Football News scouting report, which said, “Ryan is tough as nails, a great leader, and a winner who’ll make a Pro Bowl or three. He’s not a once-in-a-generation type like Peyton Manning or Troy Aikman, and he doesn’t do anything special like a JaMarcus Russell or Michael Vick. However, he’s not David Carr, either.

“Tall, mobile, smart, and with the poise and the skills to be a productive pro for the next ten years, there’s no real downside; he looks the part. However, he’s not the type of quarterback who’ll carry an NFL team to greatness on his own.”

The 2008 NFL combine assessment threw no such flowers. It said, “Lacks arm strength to challenge the deep secondary. His long throws tend to flutter or hang up long enough for defenders to attack the ball in flight.”

Most who watched Flynn at the 2008 combine compared him to Chad Pennington with two caveats: “He had slightly better arm strength and more of an ability to the execute intermediate passing attack.”

With that, Flynn fell to the seventh round, the 12th quarterback taken.

The updated report on Flynn, based on his NFL experience so far: “He’s not a gunslinger. He has an average arm, but he can get the ball where it needs to be. Most of his throws have a very tight spiral, which does point to arm strength. Finally, he’s got a pretty good deep ball. It’s not a cannon, but he has no problem moving the ball downfield. He can also throw on the run going either way, so that’s a huge plus. And he’s learned a lot from Aaron Rodgers.”

With no quarterback of consequence on the roster to challenge Tarvaris Jackson, the Seahawks can roll some very expensive dice on Flynn, or select a quarterback such as Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M in the April 26 draft, or bide their time until a better situation develops.