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This is the fifth in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents March 13, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.
News: After finishing last season with a major flourish courtesy of a record-setting performance in the Packers' 45-41 victory over the Lions at wind-swept Lambeau Field in Week 17, Packers QB Matt Flynn instantly became arguably the most enticing player in this year's free-agent market. Despite his very limited body of work (only two pro starts), as many as five to seven QB-needy teams — the Dolphins and Redskins most notably come to mind — could seriously court the 26-year-old Flynn, this year's answer to Kevin Kolb, the hot QB on the market a year ago at this time although he was not a free agent. There was early conjecture that the Packers would franchise Flynn and then try to trade him in exchange for a sizable bounty, but the $14 million one-year franchise tender was considered just too steep a price, as well as being a potential door opener to the open market for fellow franchise-tag candidate Jermichael Finley, since a team can franchise only one player.
Notes: In his two career starts, the backup to league MVP Aaron Rodgers has completed 55-of-81 passes (68 percent) for 731 yards and a 9-2 TD-interception ratio. In his pro starting debut two seasons ago in place of a concussed Rodgers on a national stage in a 31-27 loss to the Patriots in Week 15, Flynn more than held his own matched up vs. the Patriots' Tom Brady, withstanding five sacks to complete 24-of-37 passes to 10 different receivers for 251 yards, three touchdowns and one interception (100.2 QB rating). In the regular-season finale this past season vs. Detroit, Flynn broke team marks in touchdowns (six, with only one interception) and passing yards (480) and won the game in dramatic fashion, connecting with Finley on a four-yard game-winner with 1:10 remaining. In that game, Flynn threw four TD passes of 35 or more yards, connected with eight different receivers (five of whom compiled at least 52 yards receiving) and registered a whopping 136.4 QB rating.
Positives: Flynn's emergence is hardly a surprise to the Packers, who have watched him steadily improve behind the scenes in every aspect of his game, including arm strength. His best attributes are his unflappable demeanor and gritty leadership skills. He has above-average mobility, excellent command in the huddle and has always been a gamer dating back to his college days at LSU. Flynn has also greatly benefited from learning behind Rodgers, particularly when it comes to capitalizing downfield on free plays.
Negatives: Can Flynn thrive as an undisputed starter from the get-go? In a different system that isn't overflowing with weapons, as is the case in Green Bay? With him having only two pro starts under his belt, these are both very valid questions. It's also worth noting that Flynn's record-breaking performance came against a very vulnerable Lions secondary that was also eaten alive one week later by Drew Brees in the playoffs.
Risk factor: If Kolb's performance in his first season with the Cardinals is any indication, the risk with Flynn seems pretty great. But in what has definitely become a QB-driven league, the odds are strong that Flynn will get his big shot in a starting role for some team come September. Suffice it to say he couldn't be a more intriguing unknown.