With the NFL offseason already underway and the NFL combine coming up shortly, the process for rebuilding the Green Bay Packers back into a Super Bowl Champion has already begun.
The Packers, like any team in the NFL, have plenty of needs across the board that will have to be addressed in either the 2014 NFL Draft or through free agency which begins next month.
Therefore, this series is going to examine the Packers roster by position to evaluate team needs and determine what prospects are available in both the draft and free agency to fill them.
Today we start with quarterback:
Free Agents: Matt Flynn
The 2013 season was the most tumultuous season the Packers have had at quarterback in more than 20 years as four different players started games for the Packers in a season for the first time since Brett Favre took over the reigns as starting quarterback in 1992.
When Favre became the starter in 1992 he started his incredible consecutive games streak, then Rodgers followed that up by missing just one start due to injury in his first five seasons as a starter.
Thus, in the previous 21 seasons the Packers only had their preferred starting quarterback miss one game due to injury, which is an incredible streak of good fortune.
Hopefully, the Packers will get some of that good fortune back after a nightmarish 2013 season in which Rodgers missed seven starts and the Packers finished 8-7-1, posting a 2-4-1 record in his absence.
From this perspective, here’s hoping that Green Bay finally learned its lesson and realized that it can no longer ignore the backup quarterback position simply because Rodgers is their starter.
In the opinion of many, including Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy, Rodgers is the best quarterback in football. Nevertheless, this past season, the team was not prepared to play without him for an extended period and it almost cost them the playoffs.
Luckily, Flynn became available midway through the season after being released by both the Seahawks and the Bills and was able to post a 2-2 record as a starter, keeping Green Bay in the playoff race, while throwing seven touchdowns and four interceptions.
Therefore, while the Packers may have the best starting quarterback in the game, they enter the 2014 offseason, once again with questions at the backup spot. Will Scott Tolzien, who flashed promise in two starts before giving way to Flynn, be given the job or will the team lock up Flynn to a reasonable deal to be Rodgers backup?
To answer this question let us look at what talent is available in both the draft and free agency and see how each applies to the Packers:
Free Agency: There are some interesting backup quarterback prospects set to hit the market with players such as Michael Vick, Josh McCown and Matt Cassell all set to be free agents. Other quality backups available include Flynn, Shaun Hill, Chad Henne as well as Josh Freeman, who may get one more chance to be a starter.
Despite some of the talent available on the market, many guys listed above will at least want to be in a situation where they want to be able to compete for a starting job, which will not happen in Green Bay. So the only real option in terms of free agency the Packers will explore in my opinion is bringing back Flynn on a two or three year deal.
Draft: The draft is also very deep at the quarterback position this year and some draft experts are projecting as many as 12-15 quarterbacks could be selected in the first five rounds.
While it seems unlikely the Packers would draft a quarterback if they bring back Flynn, especially since Tolzien is already under contract for 2014, anything can happen on draft day. If a talented prospect comes available in the later rounds and the Packers stay true to their best player available philosophy, then it could happen.
If the Packers are looking to make a long-term investment at the quarterback position two prospects come to my mind as possible fits are LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Georgia’s Aaron Murray.
Both quarterbacks played in the SEC conference, the highest level of competition in college football and have experience in pro-style systems.
Both players have NFL-caliber arms and are also coming off season-ending injuries, which could cause a dip in their draft stock, making it more likely that they are available on day 3 of the draft, which is when the Packers would likely address the position if at all.
So while there are plenty of options for the Packers to address their backup quarterback spot the most sensible would be to reach a new agreement with Flynn, who is a proven backup and has shown he can win games in Rodgers absence.
Yet, often times reaching a deal is easier said than done and there is never a sure thing in free agency but one thing is certain; the Packers must know backup quarterback is no longer a position that can be ignored, unless the team wants to risk having another tumultuous season like 2013, so here is hoping a lesson was learned.
Tomorrow on Packers Guru will tackle the running back position.