On Monday, the Raiders took the expected final step of releasing much maligned quarterback Matt Flynn. Heavily assumed to be in the works since Flynn’s disaster of a start against the Redskins, the move took just over a week to be made.
The financial implications of Flynn’s release are pretty cut and dry. The Raiders will gain no cap space from Flynn’s release, barring the event of Flynn signing on with another team. He will still account for $3,875,000 against the Raiders’ cap this season. Considering Flynn’s performance and drastic fall from grace, if Flynn did latch on with another team, the amount would likely be close to the veteran minimum, a paltry recouping of cap space. The remaining pro-ration of Flynn’s signing bonus from his two restructures will result in a dead money hit of $2,625,000 for next season since Flynn obviously was released after June 1st. The Raiders will get back Flynn’s $5,000,000 salary for the 2014 season and that same amount in cap space.
Some have taken umbrage with McKenzie for guaranteeing Flynn’s salary for the season, but I don’t think guaranteeing Flynn’s salary for the 2013 season was a poor move. Though Flynn underwhelmed, he still didn’t underwhelm to the point to where he would have been released before his salary would have vested as a veteran anyway. While initially Flynn wouldn’t have cost any cap space to release after 2013, and the restructures changed that, the amount is comparatively small when juxtaposed with the Raiders’ massive cap space for 2014. In short, it shouldn’t have much, if any of an impact on next year’s situation. Some others would point out that this wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place if McKenzie had simply not traded for Flynn and used that money elsewhere. While viable, the Raiders also needed a quarterback, and there was history there to suggest the move made sense. The more interesting aspect to this move is how Reggie McKenzie completely misread his former player’s fit for the Raiders roster.
Though the financial aspects of this mistake are not dire, there are some troubling factors to this move. The fact McKenzie acquired a former player who he, in theory, knew very well, flamed out so quickly is worrying. A 5th rounder on the whole isn’t a huge sum, but for a GM who has stated he can find starters through the 5th round and relies on the draft, a 5th rounder given up for a player who lasted 5 games that he had worked with before is a blow to his evaluation skills. Those who viewed the move positively at the time assumed that Flynn had the skills to become a decent backup at least. Flynn failed to even demonstrate that by showing no pocket presence or elusiveness. Combined with less than stellar arm talent, and the widespread knowledge that the Raiders’ Offensive Line is atrocious, it is obvious how badly this experiment would end. Everyone knew Flynn was propped up by Green Bay’s talent, but McKenzie should have known just exactly how much Flynn was helped by his surrounding talent.
While it is nice that McKenzie quickly admitted the mistake instead of compounding it, something that Raiders’ fans are not accustomed to, it still doesn’t change the error. McKenzie allegedly wanted Matt Barkley and Ryan Nassib over 4th round quarterback Tyler Wilson, but seemingly was so intent on drafting a quarterback, it seems he went against his board, something he says he would not do. Generally reaching at a position, and not following your board, is a quick way to wind up with a talent poor roster. Although the only lingering cost of the Flynn error after the year will be less than 3 million, the implications of the decision making acumen of the person in charge of the Raiders are potentially far more dire.