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Seahawks make big splash with Flynn signing

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

After focusing in the early stages of this year's free-agent period on re-signing free agents considered to be key contributors such as RBs Marshawn Lynch and Michael Robinson and DE Red Bryant, the Seahawks switched gears Sunday with the signing of high-profile free-agent QB Matt Flynn. Rebuffed in their attempts to lure Peyton Manning to the Pacific Northwest for a visit, the Seahawks opted for Flynn, reportedly signing league MVP Aaron Rodgers' backup to a three-year deal that could be worth as much as $24 million, with $10 million guaranteed, according to multiple media outlets.

Flynn had been linked to the Seahawks since the end of the 2011 season, primarily because of his association with John Schneider, who became familiar with Flynn while working under Packers GM Ted Thompson before becoming the Seahawks' general manager last season. But Flynn left Seattle after a lengthy visit late in the week and headed south for a weekend visit with the Dolphins, leading many close observers to believe that the Seahawks would lose out to Miami, another team hot on the prowl for QB help. In one fell swoop, though, Flynn quickly has turned into the clear-cut front-runner for the starting QB job in Seattle over Tarvaris Jackson, who never was considered anything more than a short-term fix.

The PFW spin

After the 26-year-old Flynn left Seattle Friday without a contract in hand, the growing perception was that the Seahawks never looked at him as a difference-making signalcaller who could step right in and become an immediate franchise-type QB. But the reported financial commitment they ended up making would indicate otherwise, even though it falls short of the king's ransom the Cardinals doled out last year to Kevin Kolb, who was considered last year's hot QB commodity on the open market. 

Three factors provide reason for instant pessimism — Flynn's extremely limited body of work (only two pro starts), Kolb's disappointing effort in his first year in Arizona and the even more disappointing stint in Seattle of QB Charlie Whitehurst, who never came close to being worthy of the investment (two years, $8 million) the Seahawks made in him after he was obtained in an eyebrow-raising trade with the Chargers two seasons ago (ironically, the Chargers re-signed Whitehurst the other day).

Flynn's two starts, however, were major eye-openers. In his pro debut two seasons ago on a national stage in place of an injured Rodgers, Flynn went toe to toe with Patriots QB Tom Brady before falling just short in a 31-27 Week 15 loss to the Patriots, throwing three TDs while registering a 100.2 passer rating. Then, in the 2011 regular-season finale against the division-rival Lions, Flynn was on fire from the get-go and ended up setting single-game franchise marks in touchdowns (six) and passing yards (480). In addition, he beat the Lions in dramatic fashion, connecting with TE Jermichael Finley on a four-yard game winner with 1:10 remaining. It's a good bet the Seahawks took special note of that comeback effort, considering that Jackson was 0-for-4 in fourth-quarter comeback situations in 2011.

Flynn also drew rave reviews behind the scenes in Green Bay, steadily improving his game in practice while showing off his best attributes — an unflappable demeanor and gritty leadership skills. Flynn also has very underrated mobility and has learned a great deal from Rodgers in terms of ball distribution and keeping plays alive.

That said, Flynn will be moving into a far different system than the one in Green Bay, with a much greater emphasis being placed on the run than the pass. Considered to have a good head on his shoulders, Flynn doesn't figure to have much of a problem adapting to a dramatically different scheme. What could be a lot more problematic is the fact that undrafted rookie Doug Baldwin was the Seahawks' leading receiver in 2011. No matter how hard he tries, Flynn probably will follow directly in Whitehurst's disappointing footsteps if WRs Sidney Rice and Mike Williams and TE Zach Miller, among others, don't bounce back from subpar campaigns in 2011.     

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