ALAMEDA -- The Raiders on Tuesday unveiled their new quarterback, Matt Flynn, who sounded eager and earnest, stating his desire to be the starter but not claiming the role as his own.
It has to be, and Flynn has to know that.
For this is the boldest move of Reggie McKenzie's brief tenure as Raiders general manager, less daring than replacing head coach Hue Jackson with Dennis Allen but far more likely to have lasting consequences on the future of the franchise.
Bringing Flynn to Oakland as his own personal quarterback could define the McKenzie era. Examination of the trade distills it to three pertinent questions.
Can Flynn be the next Matt Schaub?
Will he be the next Kevin Kolb?
No. 3 and most important: How much trust should be placed in Reggie's eye for talent?
Sending two future draft choices to Seattle for Flynn and a future Seahawks pick was McKenzie's call. As a member of Green Bay's front office, Reggie scouted Flynn's career at LSU, met him before the 2008 draft and was part of the process that made him a seventh-round pick by the Packers.
Moreover, McKenzie spent the next four years observing Flynn in Green Bay, where he served as backup to Aaron Rodgers.
That was enough, once it was clear that incumbent starter Carson Palmer would not return to the Raiders, to convince Reggie to negotiate with Seattle G.M. John Schneider -- also a former member of the Packers front office -- and engineer a reunion with Flynn in Oakland. The relatively reasonable price, reportedly a maximum $15.25 million for two years, makes the deal palatable.
Flynn's introduction was about as informal as it gets, a man alone, standing onstage, surrounded by a dozen reporters and a bank of cameras in the team auditorium. There was no sign of the grand exhibitions of past glory -- the polished Raiders helmet, the massive black table, maybe even a football -- so often associated with news conferences presided over by late owner Al Davis.
Neither McKenzie nor Allen was present, so the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Flynn flew solo.
He said he "can't wait" to get to work, that he and his fiancee will be back within a week and hope to settle within the next two weeks, allowing him to become a regular at the team facility.
Flynn, who entered LSU with JaMarcus Russell, serving as his backup for two years before leading the Tigers to a national championship in the 2007 season, described himself as a "smart, disciplined player that doesn't accept losing."
Sounds good, eh?
That's how Rich Gannon sounded when he arrived in 1999. That's how Palmer sounded when he arrived in 2011. That's how any quarterback, any serious competitor, any real student of the game, should sound.
The Raiders don't need sound. They need results. Reggie needs results. As the man responsible for remaking the Raiders, he needs them even more than Flynn.
And McKenzie deeply believes Flynn fits his mold of a committed athlete, willing to work, loves to play and craves competition. McKenzie and Allen have consistently expressed that these three traits are crucial to their process of assembling talent.
Yet the boldness of this move is undeniable. Flynn has made only two NFL starts. He was admirable in defeat at New England in December 2010 and fabulous -- six touchdowns and 480 yards, both Packers records -- in a January 2012 win over Detroit.
Seattle rushed in 13 months ago to sign Flynn, a free agent, to a three-year deal worth about $26 million, with $10 mil guaranteed. The Seahawks later drafted Russell Wilson, who won the starting job in training camp and the preseason.
That we still don't know much about Flynn begs comparisons to Schaub and Kolb, former backups who parlayed tantalizing potential into impressive contracts.
If Flynn duplicates the production of Schaub, the former Atlanta backup traded to Houston, handed a $48 million deal and appointed starter, McKenzie's credibility rises.
But if Flynn's experience in Oakland mirrors that of Kolb in Arizona, which acquired him from Philadelphia despite a short résumé and signed him to a deal with $63 million, it could cost McKenzie his job. Even at the reasonable price.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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REGGIE McKENZIE GETS A NEW RIGHT-HAND MAN
On the same day that Matt Flynn is introduced as the newest Raiders quarterback, former starter Carson Palmer is traded to the Arizona Cardinals. Page 4