The Oakland Raiders’ recent history is littered with failed draft picks and overpriced free agent signings. From draft busts like JaMarcus Russell and Robert Gallery to disappointing pickups like Javon Walker and Kevin Boss, it’s easy to see why the Raiders haven’t had a winning season since 2002.
This offseason, Oakland hoped to put one of the cornerstones in place for a franchise turnaround by signing Matt Flynn. The sixth-year man out of LSU has been highly touted ever since he torched the Detroit Lions for 480 passing yards and six touchdowns back in 2011.
So this offseason, the Raiders inked a two-year, $11.5 million contract with Flynn – $6.5 million of which is guaranteed along with a $3.25 million signing bonus. Now Raider Nation is already beginning to question the deal after Flynn’s atrocious play last Friday.
The former backup to Aaron Rodgers completed 3-of-6 passes for 19 yards and two interceptions. The performance was so bad that the O.co Coliseum faithful booed their star free agent signing off the field. It didn’t help matters that the Chicago Bears were winning 27-0 at this point. But the reality is that, after just three preseason games, fans are already calling for backup Terrelle Pryor to take the starting role.
Of course all of the blame can’t be put squarely on Flynn’s shoulders. After all, Oakland’s line is once again terrible and few pocket passers could put up solid numbers with this unit blocking for them. But the unfortunate truth is that the once-promising Flynn might find himself in a losing situation for the second year in a row.
Last season he signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks, and everybody fully expected him to start. His competition was the mediocre Tavaris Jackson and third round pick Russell Wilson – both players who weren’t considered serious threats. However, Wilson would outplay Flynn in the preseason, take over the starting role, and emerge as the Rookie of the Year.
This essentially meant that Seattle paid $10 million in guaranteed money to a backup, so they traded Flynn away before having to honor the entire $19.5 million deal. Considering what Seattle paid, the Raiders didn’t give a ton for the backup. But Oakland did make a significant enough of an investment that they were expecting him to start.
Interestingly enough, it’s beginning to look like Seattle all over again for Flynn. The ultra-athletic Pryor has been announced as the starter for the final preseason game, with Flynn sitting out due to “arm soreness.” The Ohio State product played very well last Friday after completing 7-of-9 passes for 93 yards, adding 37 yards on the ground, and combining for two total TD’s.
If Pryor seizes the opportunity this coming weekend, it’s likely that Flynn will spend his sixth year in a row holding the clipboard. What’s more is that he’ll be pigeonholed as a career backup after blowing yet another opportunity to start.