GREEN BAY, Wis. — When Matt Flynn broke Packers records with 480 yards and six touchdown passes in Week 17 last season, the 2008 seventh-round pick appeared more than ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
When the Seattle Seahawks signed Flynn to a three-year, $26 million contract with $10 million guaranteed this offseason, it seemed that the former Packers backup had found a team with which to begin his career as a starter.
But on Sunday night, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll announced that former University of Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson had won the starting job and that Flynn would be back to his familiar role as first option off the bench. Except this year, Flynn isn’t waiting behind the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for an opportunity to play, he’s the second-string choice behind a rookie.
By the end of last season, there was overwhelming sentiment inside the Packers locker room that Flynn would be a starter on another team by Week 1 this year. So, following Green Bay’s practice Monday, there was some surprise that their former teammate was still a backup.
“He’s a good player,” Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings told FOXSportsWisconsin.com. “He’s definitely a good player. I think that he can start in this league. Whether his time is now for Seattle, obviously not. But in my eyes, I feel like he can start in this league. Absolutely.”
Jennings did not play in Flynn’s Week 17 record-breaking game due to a knee injury but did catch a touchdown pass from him against New England late in 2010, when Aaron Rodgers was out with a concussion.
“It’s a business, so you have to win, you have to earn it,” Jennings said. “Just because you get paid doesn’t mean you’re just solidified as the guy.”
Flynn, Rodgers and Graham Harrell were a close group the past two seasons, spending a lot of time together even when they weren’t in quarterback meetings. Harrell, who has a bigger role with the Packers thanks to Flynn’s departure, didn’t expect the situation in Seattle to play out this way.
“Matt’s a great player, and if his number gets called, he’s going to perform well,” Harrell said. “I know that. Sooner or later, I think his number will get called. I don’t know if it will be in Seattle or where, but at some point … he’s going to be a starter in this league.
“I think whenever that opportunity comes, he’s going to be a great one.”
Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy spent as much time with Flynn as anyone in the Packers organization over the past four years. McCarthy is well known for his offseason quarterback school, which helped develop Rodgers into one of the top QBs in the NFL and seemed to prepare Flynn to start at age 27.
“Russell is a fine young prospect coming out of Wisconsin, and I know everybody appreciated him for what he did for the Badgers and where he was drafted,” McCarthy said. “Having a personal relationship with (former Packers director of football operations and current Seahawks general manager) John Schneider, seeing John this summer, I know John was excited about both Matt and Russell coming out of the spring, the offseason program.
“Matt’s a fine quarterback. This is just part of his path. You always wish your guys well, even when they leave here. I’m sure it will work out.”
Flynn didn’t play poorly in his two preseason games, completing 17 of 26 passes (65.4 percent), but he didn’t throw a touchdown pass and had one interception. Wilson, meanwhile, has been stellar. A third-round pick, Wilson has completed 35 of 52 attempts (67.3 percent) with five touchdown passes to one interception, plus a rushing TD to boot.
Barring an injury or QB switch, Flynn will be watching from the sideline when the Packers travel to Seattle in Week 3 for a “Monday Night Football” matchup.