ORLANDO, Fla. – If Mike McCarthy had his way, he’d have Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien as his three quarterbacks next season – and have all of them on the Green Bay Packers’ 53-man roster, with a fourth developmental QB stashed on the practice squad.
But the Packers head coach and old quarterbacks coach knows that roster-building doesn’t always work that way. In fact, the Packers haven’t come out of training camp with three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster since 2008, when Rodgers was a first-year starter and Flynn had beaten out fellow rookie draft pick Brian Brohm for the No. 2 spot behind Rodgers.
Now, Rodgers is expected to be completely healed from the fractured collarbone that cost him the better part of eight games, and while Tolzien is under contract for 2014, Flynn is an unrestricted free agent.
McCarthy said Tuesday that he is hoping the Packers can re-sign Flynn, who helped the Packers salvage their season after Rodgers’ Nov. 4 injury by engineering fourth-quarter comebacks in back-to-back 1-point victories over Atlanta and Dallas in December after coming on in relief of Tolzien against Minnesota on Nov. 24 to earn a tie. The Packers won the NFC North with an 8-7-1 record after Rodgers returned to beat the Chicago Bears in the regular-season finale.
“I’d like to have Matt back,” McCarthy said Tuesday during a luncheon interview with Wisconsin reporters covering the annual NFL Meetings. “I thought Matt was a good addition to our football team. I have great respect and admiration for him, just being around him a lot on a positional basis. Yeah, I’m hoping financially it works out.”
Flynn, who went 2-2 as the starter, returned after being on three other rosters – the Seattle Seahawks’, Oakland Raiders’ and Buffalo Bills’ – before being released by the Bills just in time for the Packers to sign him in the wake of veteran backup Seneca Wallace’s season-ending groin injury. After a brief adjustment period, Flynn was able to lean on his experience as Rodgers’ backup from 2008 through 2011 despite the changes that the Packers’ offense had undergone following his 2012 free-agent departure for Seattle.
Now, if the Packers can get Flynn to return, they’d have all three of their preferred quarterbacks under contract in time for the April 22 start of the offseason program. After having Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman and Vince Young behind Rodgers in training camp last summer, the Packers cut all three at the end of camp and wound up signing Wallace to the 53-man roster and Tolzein to the practice squad just days before the regular-season opener.
McCarthy disputed the notion Tuesday that the Packers had mishandled the backup job behind Rodgers by going into the regular season with two backups unfamiliar with the offense. He argued that Wallace, who played poorly in relief of Rodgers against the Bears and then suffered his groin injury on the first series of his start against Philadelphia the following week, might have done well had he not been injured. After Wallace’s injury on Nov. 10, the Packers signed Flynn two days later but started Tolzien the next two weeks.
“The guy who really struggled, or had the biggest challenge, was Scott,” McCarthy allowed. “He came from a totally different language change from his first two opportunities (with San Diego and San Francisco).”
In the end, McCarthy expressed hope that Flynn, who was 102 of 166 for 1,146 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions (86.1 passer rating) in his five games with the Packers, would return. A number of backup-level quarterbacks have joined new teams during the first few weeks of free agency, which would seem to be a good sign for Flynn's return to Green Bay.
“Do I like Matt Flynn in the quarterback room? Absolutely,” McCarthy said. “Not only Matt as a player, but there’s value he has. He’s been there, he’s got experience, his relationship with Aaron. He carries a lot of value. That’s added value. But also you have to continue to improve. How do you improve? Competition.”
Return to: Jason Wilde Blog