Alex Smith & Matt Flynn: 2 FA QB Options For Struggling Teams

As the regular season ended for 20 teams (24 after the wildcard rounds), the questions about off-season trades, and what deals will be made in free agency start to come up. We saw how quickly teams wanted to act after poor showings in the season, with 7 head coaches losing their job, with many of these firings not surprising at all.

But one question that many fans from teams such as the Jaguars, Chiefs & Cardinals, will be wondering is whether their side will be drafting a QB in the draft in April. Other teams such as the Eagles, Titans & noticeably the Jets, have all suffered from the lack of a star QB this season. The Jets, or more importantly Rex Ryan, want to remain with Sanchez it seems and so it looks like a lost cause to suggest the idea that they may well bring in another QB, with Tebow seemingly not the answer either.

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With the QB prospects in the 2013 draft not being anywhere near as good as the talent we’ve seen in the NFL this season in terms of QB, teams may look outside of the draft to fill their QB problem. Out of the 7 coaches which were fired on Black Monday, you would say the majority of them were fired for not having a franchise QB in their ranks. You could certainly make a case for the Bills, Eagles, Browns, Chiefs & Cardinals that their seasons were let down because of the lack of a franchise QB. 

The Cardinals were a side who used a total of 4 QBs during their 16 games, with the highest ranked one being Kolb who ranked 36th out of 49 QBs used during the season. Says a lot really. The Jaguars had a change of QBs midseason due to the injury suffered by Gabbert against the Texans, with Henne almost leading the side to a win in overtime. There’s also the Chiefs of course who used Cassel & Quinn during the season, which led to them also receiving the 1st draft pick.

So the signs are there that all of these teams, and others, need QBs. But with the lack of an RG3 or Luck in this draft, but instead prospects such as Geno Smith & Matt Barkley, both who’s stock have dropped after their performances this season. With this in mind, teams will look at options which are available in the field, and I’m sure there’ll turn their attention to 2 back-up QBs in particular, in the form of Matt Flynn & Alex Smith.

Alex Smith suffered a concussion against the Rams after week 10, in a game they went into with a 6-2 record, and was replaced by Colin Kaepernick from there, who has a record of 5-2-1 for his games. Kaepernick’s ability to run the ball has refreshed the 49ers it seems, and he’s had many impressive performances against tough opposition, including away to the Patriots & Saints as well as at home to the Bears in his first start (which was enforced to due to Smith’s concussion). 

But this all seemed rather unfair on Alex Smith, who hadn’t done much wrong at all in the game he’s played. Smith’s never been rated by Jim Harbaugh it seems, with the 49ers going after Peyton Manning in the off season, even though Smith led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game, where they were unlucky to lose to the Giants in overtime. 

Alex Smith had a QB rating of 104.1 before he was knocked out of the game with the Rams, and yet that still wasn’t deemed good enough for the 49ers. You would have to say the 49ers have justified this decision by getting the 2nd seeding, and a bye week in the first week of the play-offs. But one things for sure, and that’s that Smith is too good to be a back-up QB. Any one of the teams mentioned above would improve vastly with Smith as their starting QB. At the age of 28 too, this is a QB who has many years left in the tank, and certainly has the pedigree after being picked 1st overall in the 2005 draft. In the past 4 seasons he hasn’t had a QB rating below 80 for the regular season. He had the most 4th quarter comeback wins in a season (6) last season, and the fewest interceptions in a season.

These are not the numbers of a guy who’s a back-up QB. I don’t think it’s a question of if Smith goes, but just where he goes, as this talent is wasted on the sidelines in San Francisco. With Smith guaranteed $7.5 million if he stays for the new season, rather than a cost of $1 million if the 49ers were to release him, it would make sense for the 49ers to get rid of Smith by any means possible. Another guy who’s seemingly wasted on the sidelines is Matt Flynn at the Seahawks. Seattle were the team who won Flynn’s signature in the 2011 off-season after much competition. However, after training camp rookie Russell Wilson became starting QB, and he’s now led them to the NFC divisional round against the Falcons, after an impressive performance away to the Redskins. There’s no doubt that Pete Carroll’s decision was justified after the season that Seattle have had, but Flynn is another one who’ll be disappointed to have sat out the whole season, after many predicted him to be the starter. 

This is a guy who’s only ever started 2 NFL games in his 5 seasons. In those 2 games he’s thrown 9 TDs, setting an all-time Packers record in the win against the Lions, throwing for 480 yards and 6 TDs. You don’t pull numbers like this unless you’re a bit special. This is a guy who expected to be given the keys to start as QB for the Seahawks. After being back-up for Rodgers for so long, I doubt Flynn is content with being back-up for Wilson in Seattle. Having signed a huge contract in the summer, I’m sure Seattle would be keen to get him off the books, with many teams possible takers for this promising QB, who’s still young at the age of 27. 

Flynn would improve any side that he went to out of the ones mentioned above, and I suspect the team that doesn’t win the signature of Smith will go after Flynn. The ones who miss out I’m sure will go into the draft and hope that the QBs they acquire will be a success. You never know though, as there may be a Russell Wilson in the draft this year who’ll come out and surprise everyone. But for teams not willing to take that chance, and wanting a guaranteed franchise QB for the next few years, Smith & Flynn are the answer for these teams.

It’ll be fascinating to see where these 2 talented QBs end up, and it’s pretty certain that whoever does end up with their signatures will look to have a much better season this year than the one they endured last season, with many teams seemingly underperforming. With the emphasis now on teams to have a QB that is mobile, and with the ability to run the ball outside the pocket, Smith & Flynn are two examples of QBs who can still offer a high level of quality play, that some of these teams have been missing badly. The QBs are so key in this league, and so valuable, that perhaps if these 2 QBs had been starters in these teams last season, some of the coaches who were fired on Black Monday, may well have been spared.