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Matt Flynn, Nick Barnett, Trades & The CBA

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Matt Flynn, Nick Barnett, Trades & The CBA

The most popular discussions regarding the possibility of trading current Packers revolve around quarterback Matt Flynn and linebacker Nick Barnett.

But how realistic is it to think Green Bay could actually pull off such transactions?

As is the case with almost every conceivable football-related issue these days, the state of labor negotiations and the Collective Bargaining Agreement will play a huge role.

Flynn will be entering the final year of his rookie contract next season, the last season he'll be under control of the Packers, which makes it plausible that Green Bay would want to get something in return for Flynn before he simply exits via free agency.

The sticking point is, without a new CBA in place, teams will not be allowed to trade players.

Now, if the league and the players union strike a deal before the March 3 deadline, it's business as usual and teams will be able to make trades once the new league year starts on March 4.

While not out of the realm of possibility, it's looking increasingly unlikely they'll be able to agree to a new CBA by the so-called deadline.

If a lockout occurs, and lasts until the draft in April, there will be no trades involving players. To my knowledge, teams will still be able to trade picks for picks, i.e. a first-round draft choice in exchange for a second and a third.

Therefore, the Packers' hands could be tied. Even if they wanted to trade Flynn, they might not be able to.

Now, if a deal occurs after the draft, there's nothing stopping the Packers from trading Flynn before the start of the NFL season. But as long as the compensation in return is a draft choice, it wouldn't come until at least 2012.

A draft choice in the future is always less valuable than one in the present, for the simple fact that the Packers will have to wait an entire season before they see any payoff. And that's not even taking into account how long it will take for that particular draft choice to develop, if he does at all.

That's why you sometimes see teams trade a sixth-round draft choice this year in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice next year. The asking price must be higher if a team isn't going to see any sort of payoff until at least a year down the road.

One must also take into consideration the Packers' comfort level with Graham Harrell and the backup quarterback position.

Harrell took several quick steps up the organizational ladder in 2010. He went from free agent to practice squad to 53-man roster all in the span of a couple months.

How quickly he can be counted upon to be the primary backup is still a matter of debate.

Most people probably feel pretty comfortable that Flynn can fill in for Rodgers for a short period of time, such as he did this season. It's unknown whether Harrell could even fill in for a relatively brief stint.

Here's another conundrum. If the Packers trade Flynn before the draft, they could at least enter it knowing they need to pick a quarterback to develop in case Harrell isn't the answer.

If Flynn is traded after the draft, the Packers are stuck with Harrell. Either that or they'd have to sign a veteran backup in free agency.

Much like the application of the franchise tag and Cullen Jenkins, there's probably too much uncertainty to trade Flynn before the start of the 2012 season.

If they keep him, at least they have a reliable backup for another Super Bowl run.

A lot of the same uncertainties apply to Barnett.

First of all, the Packers have to decide what they're going to do with A.J. Hawk. Are they going to pay him, cut him or restructure his contract?

Once the Packers deal with Hawk, they can then decide what to do with Barnett. He's under contract through the 2012 season.

Even if the Packers keep Hawk, there's nothing saying they have to part ways with Barnett. Even though there will be some tough choices regarding playing time if all the inside linebackers stay healthy next season, keeping Barnett provides some good insurance and depth at the position should the injury bug occur once again.

And even if the Packers want to trade Barnett, they're once again limited by the status of the CBA. With no agreement in place, they wouldn't be able to trade him before the draft.

Unlike Flynn, the Packers may be more willing to trade Barnett post-draft because of the depth at inside linebacker, though.

And if there's a silver lining for NFL fans in all this uncertainty, it's this: Owners will want the flexibility to make trades before and during the draft. That should give them at least a little incentive to strike a deal sooner rather than later.

Until that's done, however, any talk of trade is pure speculation.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (30) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Josh's picture

New decree, just put something simple in. Say CBA-If and then move on. It's a waste of space to keep having to explain yourself. Saves us time to read and you to write

Brian Carriveau's picture

I think most people like the CBA-related issues explained because they're so confusing. I'm not explaining myself, I'm attempting to explain the CBA, which I hardly think is a waste of space. It's why people read what Andrew Brandt does.

asshalo's picture

I would agree with Brian 100%. I thought this thread has developed very nicely over the last three days and provided light on a lot of keys issues facing the packers (1) veterans become free agents (2) compensation picks (3) possible trades. These to me are the bigger issues.

D.D. Driver's picture

I doubt that there will be much of a market for a 30 year old linebacker coming off a season ending injury.

Keefer147's picture

Why doesn't the NFL have more player for player trades? If we have too many linebackers...couldn't we find a team that has a need for that position and give us a suitable surplus player at their end? Or am I dreaming?

DaveK's picture

Fans seems always willing to trade away depth. We may need Flynn to start a few games and give us a chance to win those games. If he can almost pull out a win at NE then he can certainly win us a few games anywhere else. After this past season I'm more then willing to over-pay some guys (Hawk) or give up some future compensation to keep the depth needed to a make another run at a championship. Pay Hawk his $10 million and let the best two LB's play ILB. If one gets hurt you know you have another that can step up and play championship caliber football. This is a roster that is built to win now and it doesn't make much sense to trade away depth unless you think you can replace Hawk or Flynn with equal talent that knows the system the way Flynn and Hawk do right now. I don't see it but I'm no TT either.

PkrNboro's picture

Hawk will have to have his wrist "scoped"!

I've not heard anything else about his injury
(nor Sam Shields, for that matter -- other than "further examination"...)

What if this is a Lang/Barnett/Urlacher type injury?
May involve immobility for extended period of time, loss of strength, major pampering during training camp, or possibly PUP.
I'm pretty sure you draw salary during PUP, and with 3 games to practice/activate -- we could be out $5 million before we know he can't play !!!

Doug in Sandpoint's picture

It may have been addressed before, but is it silly to consider moving Barnett outside? If the injury hasn't compromised his speed, couldn't he really help out opposite CM3? How dramtic would the learning curve be?

lebowski's picture

He's not big enough to be an outside 'backer in a 3-4. Those guys are ideally around 6-2, 260 pounds. Barnett's a few inches and about 30 pounds short.

Ceallaigh_k's picture

Not sure if trading Flynn would be the wisest moves. Trading him only to draft another back up or getting one in FA seems a little of robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. He's a known entity and wouldn't need a season or two to develop. He's a good quarterback, not a great one. But he already knows the system and would be ready to go if Rodgers goes down again.

Now before everyone jumps on me, I'm not saying that Rodgers is concussion/injury prone, I'm going to state that I don't think he is. But for players like a Harrison or even a Peppers, his past medical history, in my opinion, just makes the bullseye on the the side of his head all the bigger. And if dubious players decide that is the Achilles Heel for the Packers (unfounded not withstanding)then we a solid, ready to go back up that can make a relative seamless transition if QB1 goes down from a dirty hit.

Sure we could get a decent draft pick in a trade for him, but the expenses of training and developing a new backup may outweigh that benefit.

Ruppert's picture

Assuming the new CBA is relatively similar to the old, the Packers will probably get the 3rd or 4th round compensatory pick for Flynn when he leaves in free agency after 2011. I think the Packers are comfortable keeping him around for another year, then getting that 3rd or 4th. A team would have to offer something higher than that as a trade off for losing Flynn for 2011.

Barnett gets cut at the end of camp, IMO, unless there are training camp injuries. I think they'll re-do Hawk's deal, too.

ZeroTolerance's picture

Smart and Smart. 100% agree. Compensatory picks are not considered by most. Look at what we'll get this year, and especially probably next. The New England way. A smart GM like TT will perpetuate this cycle. Hawk is steady, smart, and younger than the flying-around out-of-control older Barnett.

BubbaOne's picture

Remember during training camp how many fans wanted to trade Hawk, Bishop, and/or Barnett. Where would we be had TT done so?
This year should have taught us the importance of backups. Flynn is a perfect example. We learned vs NE he can fill in should AR go down. While we're in SB run mode, it's worth keeping him and getting the comp. pick should he depart next off season.

bogmon's picture

Flynn's big game against the Pats was REALLY similar to Rodgers's game vs. Dallas in '07...we got a taste of what the future may hold.
Every player is one devastating hit away from being put out of action.
Keep Flynn this season...Rodgers is not made of adamantium after all.

BubbaOne's picture

Barnett on the otherhand is a different story. There's the added component of too much money at the ILB position, his being injury prone as of late, his age, and the emergence of Hawk as a player/signal caller.
Here's a dream trade scenario that's also viable if the CBA was worked out before the draft. N.O. has only 5 draft picks. We trade our 3rd (#96 pick), Barnett (giving him a 4th round grade), plus our 5th round pick and get N.O.'s 3rd (#72 pick). We move up 24 spots in the 3rd round and we still have our 4th plus the Kampman comp pick (probably a 4th, but I'm hoping a 3rd). N.O. gets two picks plus Barnett.
TT is now drafting 3 of the top 72 players...I like our chances he comes up w/ two playmakers out of the 3 picks.

PackersRS's picture

To any lawyers out there, or people with knowledge on the subject:

What about a promise of trade, with sine qua non condition (new CBA is reached), and a contractual penalty of a bigger value, if no CBA is reached by x date?

Cardinals give: 2011 2nd round pick
Packers give: promise to trade Flynn as soon as new CBA is reached.
Contractual penalty: if no CBA is reached till september 1, 2011, Cardinals receive Packers' 2012 2nd and 3rd round picks.

Is that possible in the American law, with labor contracts? Or am I being too delusional in here?

WoodyG's picture

Yes, you are delusional ..... But it has nothing to do with your post ...... LOL.

PackersRS's picture

First of all, didn't ask if I was delusional. Asked if I was being delusional by proposing this. Learn to read.

And second of all, who the fuck are you to say anything? I asked for competent opinion. Yours isn't.

WoodyG's picture

Another with a limited sense of humor .... I'll remember to keep it simpler for you in the future .....

Ruppert's picture

I'll try to be serious, RS. If what you said is submitted in writing, I suppose it would likely be binding. Hell, the Steve Hutchinson "poison pill" language was binding...this is tame in comparison.

In all seriousness, I'm not sure I totally understand your proposal, though. You're suggesting that Arizona gives us their 2nd rounder to use in the April draft, right? And in return we give them Flynn. And if no CBA is reached by 9/1, I assume we get Flynn back and give them our 2nd and 3rd in 2012? The point being that Flynn has less value to AZ without the whole offseason to learn the offense?

That's an interesting thought, if I understand you correctly. I can't see Mr. Thompson gambling two future draft picks for something unknown.

I mean, the Arizona owner could decide in late August that he doesn't really want Flynn, then purposely hold up a new CBA for a week to ensure he gets the draft picks. It's unlikely, and it's not good faith bargaining, but it's still possible. Good question.

PackersRS's picture

I'm not really talking about details of the trade. 2nd rounder for Flynn, etc...

In a promisse of buy and sell, the parties agree to celebrate a future contract. It can happen, in instance, if a building is still under construction. There are contractual penalties if one of the parties doesn't hold to it's promise, even if it's not the party's fault.

I'm proposing the same with NFL players. They would agree to celebrate a future contract, with one part fulfilling it's due in advance, with the insurance of a contractual penalty if the other part (in this case, the Packers allowing Flynn to play for the other team if there's football in 11, or if there's training camp in 11) doesn't hold it's share.

It happens all the time in soccer, when (usually European) teams "buy" young players from other countries, but said players don't have enough age to qualify for such actions. What happens is that the European club pays in advance, and the player keeps working under the current club until he has enough age to move. If that doesn't happen, there are contractual penalties.

As I said, I don't know if it's possible in American sports. The law is much different. It doesn't support, for instance, loans, which is quite common in soccer. At least I've never seen such occurence in American sports.

It would be a way to "bypass" the instability of a new season, while allowing player for current draft pick trades.

Ruppert's picture

Okay, I get it now. And now since I understand it a little better, I'm not the least bit sure it would be allowed. Again...interesting.

PackersRS's picture

Yeah, my english isn't the best in the world, much less when I try to adapt legal terms that I know only in portuguese and google for the translation...

NoWay Jose's picture

In my opinion, keeping Barnett as a backup is not a viable option.

Set aside the money, it is a chemistry issue. Heis not going to take being a backup well -- and he has already demonstrated numerous times that he will speak his mind. I just don't think it bodes well to have a guy with his personality stewing all season.

IdiotFan's picture

Totally agree.

Point Packer's picture

Barnett's a horse hair away from being a washed up "backer" whose always hurt and has bigger ego than talent. He has had some good years, but my enduring vision of Barnett will be him getting smoked by a FB as the RB picks up another first down. Trade him. Keep Flynn.

Jmac34's picture

I get why people don't want to trade Matt Flynn, but I think you trade him because he is gone after this year anyways plus its not Green Bay hasn't gone with an unknown at back-up quarterback. Another reason to trade him now is that you get the pick this year or next year and it will be a higher pick then any comp pick (that they wouldn't get until 2013) would be.

dennis eckersley's picture


Nerdmann's picture

1: Who says that if there is no agreement, there can't be trades? I haven't heard that. Basically the owners can do whatever they want. If anything, there will be no free agency.
2: Even if for some reason there are no trades, RS is right. Teams will work something out between themselves. Hell, they might even work something out between themselves AND the players.
3: Who says a draft pick THIS year is always better? For a team like ours, I would say that future picks might begin to be worth more than current picks. For one thing, we just won the Superbowl. We're picking at the end of the round. Maybe next year we'll be somewhere in the middle.
For another thing, we have a ton of depth. Why wouldn't we stockpile picks until such time as our guys start aging or we are unable to keep paying them to stay?
If other teams look at current picks as more valuable, then TT should be able to get "value" by trading current picks for higher future picks. Sounds like arbitrage to me.

PackerAaron's picture

If there is no CBA there is no anything. No trades, no free agency, nothing.

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