Commentary

Don't go wild for Flynn in Seattle

Updated: March 18, 2012, 9:01 PM ET
By Christopher Harris | ESPN.com

If I were the Seattle Seahawks, I would rather have Peyton Manning than Matt Flynn.

But if I were the Seattle Seahawks, I would probably rather have Matt Flynn than Alex Smith.

The Seahawks could do nothing about the first of those two statements; Peyton wouldn't even talk to them. So they did the best with what they could and reached an agreement with Flynn on a relatively cap-friendly deal: $10 million guaranteed over three years. He will more than likely be Seattle's starter in 2012.

[+] EnlargeMatt Flynn
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireMatt Flynn had a crazy 480-yard, six-TD performance in the final game of the 2011 season.

Why would I rather have signed Flynn than Smith, who as of this writing is currently dangling in the wind waiting for the San Francisco 49ers to find out if they'll win the Manning Derby? First off, such a signing requires far less of a financial commitment than Smith is looking for, meaning if things don't work out, it won't kill the franchise to move on. Next, I think it's fair to argue that while Flynn probably has more downside than Smith, he probably has more upside, too.

If my Twitter feed is any indication, Niners fans don't want to hear this, but Smith was a caretaker's caretaker in '11 and the 49ers were freaked out by the idea of having him throw the ball, especially down the field. Sorry, a few playoff throws doesn't change the fact that Smith had zero 300-yard games, and nine contests in which he didn't even eclipse 200.

Meanwhile, Flynn absolutely might go the Kevin Kolb route and wind up being a system QB who isn't very good outside his system. Flynn has thrown 132 regular-season passes in his life, and there's nowhere to go but down after Week 17's ludicrous 31-of-44 for 480 yards and six TDs. But he spent years learning at the foot of Aaron Rodgers, who swears by the guy. Flynn doesn't have a big arm and things won't go well if he has to make a living going down the field, at least until and if he can undergo the kind of arm-strength transformation that Rodgers and Drew Brees have made famous. But he's known for good decision-making and has a pedigree for success. Finally, while Smith is only a year older than Flynn, he has had major surgery to his throwing arm and more tread taken off his tires. Neither Smith nor Flynn is leading the mid-rebuild Seahawks to a Super Bowl this year, so why not take the "younger-bodied" guy?

However, in comparing Matt Flynn to Alex Smith, I hope you're gathering that I don't view Flynn as much of a fantasy football option right now. He really doesn't have an above-average wing at the moment, nor will he have anything resembling the Green Bay Packers receiving corps in Seattle. Sidney Rice had surgery to both shoulders this winter and suffered through concussion problems late last year. Mike Williams is coming off a gruesome broken leg. Doug Baldwin and Marshawn Lynch are still available as pass-catchers, but unless the Seahawks draft a wide receiver, that's about it. With Tarvaris Jackson at the helm in '11, Seattle had a top-10 run-heavy offense and ranked 26th in net yards per attempt, and there's little reason to think that changes immediately. Frankly, I think Smith is a decent comparable for Flynn; in the best of all worlds, with everyone around him playing nearly flawlessly, Flynn could be the No. 14 QB in fantasy, as Smith was last year. It's more likely, of course, that neither Smith nor Flynn finishes that high in '12.