John Schneider, Matt Flynn and the benefit of the doubt
By Brady Henderson
You’d be wise to take most of what you hear from NFL coaches and executives this time of the year with a grain of salt. Teams have little incentive, after all, to be forthcoming with their plans in free agency, the trade market and the draft. More often than not, it’s in their best interest to be anything from ambiguous to misleading.
For that reason, you might have had your guard up while hearing Seahawks general manager John Schneider reiterate Thursday the team’s stance on backup quarterback Matt Flynn.
A willingness to make unconventional moves has defined the Seahawks under John Schneider and Pete Carroll. (AP)
Schneider, speaking with reporters from the scouting combine in Indianapolis, said what you would expect him to say: Seattle still considers Flynn a starting-caliber quarterback and the team is prepared to proceed with him as its backup, presumably with the $5.25 million he’s scheduled to earn in base salary next season.
“We have different models set up with our cap, and obviously we have a model that includes Matt – our primary model,” Schneider said.
Of course Schneider would say that, right? Suggesting that Flynn’s current contract is untenable given his status as a backup would lead other teams to believe that Flynn could be released should Seattle fail to find a trade partner. That could only diminish any trade market that might exist, as teams interested in Flynn might instead wait and see if he hits the open market.
So, knowing that Flynn’s value increases when other teams think the Seahawks are in no way desperate or determined to trade him, it’s easy to assume Schneider was posturing.
That’s how I felt until hearing Mike Salk’s take on the matter Friday. The point Salk made during the first hour of “Brock and Salk” was that Schneider deserves the benefit of the doubt given his and coach Pete Carroll’s track record of eschewing conventional wisdom when making key decisions.
Keeping a backup quarterback at a salary more than 10 times greater than starter Russell Wilson’s could be considered unconventional, especially when you consider what Flynn could bring back in a trade. But, as Salk noted, Carroll and Schneider have followed through before on what at the time seemed like head-scratching declarations.
“For the most part, they tend to deliver on what they say. Nobody believed that Matt Flynn wasn’t [automatically] the starter when they said it when he first got here. Guess what? Matt Flynn wasn’t the starter,” Salk said. “Nobody believed that Russell Wilson was really in the competition to be the quarterback. Guess what? Russell Wilson was really in the competition to be quarterback and then ultimately won that whole thing.
“You don’t have to believe what they tell you at a press conference, and you can think, ‘Yeah, they’re just posturing,’ but they’ve never lied. Every time they say one of these things they’ve held themselves to it.”
Only the Seahawks know what they hope and intend to do – if anything – with Flynn. It’s not unreasonable to assume they would ultimately prefer to trade Flynn, nor would it be unreasonable to wonder whether they would really want to pay him a $5.25 million base salary if they can’t trade him.
But Salk’s point certainly lends some credence to Schneider’s claim – as unconventional as the notion might seem.