ESPN Wisconsin

Packers offseason by position: QBs

Players under contract
No.
Name
Ht.
Wt.
Age
Exp.
College
12
Aaron Rodgers
6-2
220
28
7
California
6
Graham Harrell
6-2
215
26
1
Texas Tech
17
Nick Hill
6-3
215
26
1
So. Illinois
 
Free agents
No.
Name
Ht.
Wt.
Age
Exp.
College
10
Matt Flynn
6-2
225
26
 4
LSU

The good news:  Not much good news here: Rodgers only was the NFL MVP, garnering 48 of the possible 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who cover the NFL. Leading the Packers to an NFL-best and franchise-high 15 regular-season victories, Rodgers authored the most efficient season in NFL history and the most productive season in Packers history, setting an NFL record for single-season passer rating (122.5) while breaking the franchise records for touchdown passes (45) and passing yardage (4,643) in 15 games before sitting out the meaningless regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions on Jan. 1. He finished the year having completed 343 of 502 passes (68.3 percent) for 4,643 yards (9.25 yards per attempt) with 45 TDs and six interceptions (a 1.2 percent interception rate) while being sacked 36 times. While he did not play as well in the NFC Divisional Playoff loss to the Super Bowl XLVI-champion New York Giants (26 for 46, 264 yards, two TDs, one INT, 78.5 rating), he finished the season having not missed any time due to injury after sustaining a pair of concussions during the 2010 season – including one that forced him to miss a game at New England.

The bad news:  Not only is Rodgers going to lose one of his closest friends on the team, as well as his partner in crime in his legendary photo-bombings of weekly captain pictures, but the Packers are going to bid adieu to the best quarterback insurance policy in the league. Two days after Flynn completed 31 of 44 passes for franchise records of 480 yards and six touchdowns (136.4 rating) in a 45-41 victory over Detroit in the regular-season finale, Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on ESPN Wisconsin that he’d officially given up hope of Flynn returning: “Not going to happen, I don’t think,” Rodgers said. “Going into the game I think we maybe had a 50/50 shot; now I don’t know if we have any shot. It’s always good when you can have a couple good quarterbacks on the roster just in case something happens to the starter, but I think myself and the staff and the guys on the team would love to see Matt get an opportunity to play and be a starter.” Bet on it. And good for Flynn, who entered the league as a seventh-round pick in 2008 and outperformed second-round pick Brian Brohm from Day 1.

The big question: For a team with the reigning MVP as its starter, the quarterback position comes with a surprising number of questions. For one, what kind of relationship will Rodgers have with new quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo? One day before news of McAdoo’s promotion broke, Rodgers said he preferred a veteran quarterbacks coach over McAdoo, who’s never coached the position. Another question: How effectively will McAdoo transition from mentoring young tight ends like Jermichael Finley, Andrew Quarless, Tom Crabtree, D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor to developing Harrell, who’ll get the first shot at replacing Flynn? And, perhaps the biggest question of all: Will the Packers be able to get a pre-free agency, long-term deal done with Finley and, in turn, be able to use their franchise tag on Flynn? The guess here is no, but it’s hard to picture general manager Ted Thompson watching such a valuable commodity like Flynn walk out the door with nothing but a 2013 compensatory pick to show for it.

Offseason outlook: Harrell and ex-Arena Football League quarterback Nick Hill will both benefit from going through quarterback school, even the truncated version that McAdoo will run because of the new offseason rules set forth by the new collective bargaining agreement. It will be Harrell’s first session, since he signed after school ended in 2010 and last year’s was canceled by the lockout. Hill is an intriguing prospect who lost out to Caleb Hanie for the right to go to training camp with the Chicago Bears a couple of years ago, and the Packers actually took a peek at him with a workout late in the 2010 season when Rodgers was sidelined with his second concussion. Meanwhile, it’ll be interesting to see if the Packers use one of their later picks in the three-day NFL Draft on a quarterback to develop. In a league where concussion protocols are increasingly stringent even as the rules of the game continue to protect quarterbacks, having a backup who can step in and give your team a chance to win is vital. The Packers had that in Flynn; now, they must develop the next Flynn.

Next: Running backs.

– Jason Wilde

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