Surprise releases are part of any final cut down day, and none caused nearly as much commotion as the Packers' decision to part with backup quarterback Vince Young. Anyone who watched Young's performance in the final preseason game understands why the team felt they needed to go elsewhere, but nonetheless it represents a big roll of the dice. As in stands, the Packers enter the season one hard hit away from B.J. Coleman entering an NFL game. That's a sobering image for fans accustomed to the highest level of quarterback play over the last 20 years.
However, with the Packers' first game still a week away, the roster isn't a fixed entity. Changes can still be made by the front office through a variety of avenues. We address some of them here and gauge their likelihood.
The Packers trade for Matt Flynn
Upside: In the immediate aftermath of Vince Young's release, a sizable portion of the Twittersphere predicted that Ted Thompson would finagle a trade for former Aaron Rodgers understudy Matt Flynn. In theory, such a deal would make sense. Flynn is only a year and change removed from his last game with the Packers and probably remains fluent in Green Bay's offensive scheme. He also has a great relationship with Rodgers, and isn't a threat to jeopardize locker room chemistry by being marginalized in a backup role. Best of all, because the Raiders have already paid the 2013 portion of Flynn's signing and roster bonuses, the Packers would only be on the hook for $1.25 million this year.
Downside: Trading with the Raiders would require dealing with Reggie McKenzie, the Packers' former director of player personnel who intimately understands Thompson's process and values. Additionally, Flynn's ability to step into Green Bay and immediately assume the backup role is unique among the quarterbacks on the market. After investing considerable time in Graham Harrell, B.J. Coleman, and to a lesser extent Vince Young, it's highly possible the Packers are not interested in anyone who requires several weeks to get up to speed. If that is the case, it creates a bilateral monopoly between the Green Bay and Oakland. As such, the cost to acquire Flynn will skyrocket.
Likelihood: The Packer's lack of leverage (no apparent viable backup quarterback option currently on the roster, scarcity of ready-to-go backup quarterback alternatives) suggests that the Packers would need to part with a fairly valuable asset to acquire Flynn. That's not how Thompson conducts business. As such, this scenario is very unlikely to transpire.
The Packers sign a free agent quarterback
Upside: As the NFL season officially kicks off this Thursday, players currently without a home have little to no leverage or ability to negotiate their terms. If a team calls, they are expected to sign quickly and cheaply.
Downside: None of these quarterbacks have worked in Mike McCarthy's offense before. Signing one would mean another crash course in the Packers' playbook while the coaches should be preparing for opponents in games that actually count. It also means that unless the team decides to sign another practice squad eligible quarterback (unlikely), Green Bay would need to carry three passers on their 53 until the new guy was capable of running the offense. That's a high cost for a backup player the team hopes they never have to use.
Likelihood: If the Packers are to bring in another quarterback, this is the most likely scenario under which they'd do so. Unless they sign a quarterback with practice squad eligibility like Tyler Wilson, the most valuable asset the Packers would surrender in this situation is a roster spot. That shouldn't be cost-inhibitive if the team doesn't want to run with Coleman as their primary backup.
The Packers stand pat at quarterback
Upside: The Packers' coaching staff won't have to invest any more time bringing another quarterback up to speed. The team also won't have to cut another player to make room on the roster. Because Tolzien has already signed to the practice squad, the Packers potentially have an alternative to Coleman waiting in the wings for later in the season.
Downside: Have you seen Coleman's play in the preseason? His unrefined footwork and mechanics make each pass an adventure. He has the arm strength to make deep throws, but rarely do those turn out positively. Tolzien is a heady player, but he has marginal NFL talent. This scenario wouldn't be that much different from last year.
Likelihood: From the moment the team released Vince Young, it seemed likely that the Packers would acquire someone outside of the organization to serve as Rodgers' backup. However, with each passing hour, it becomes more and more possible that the team sticks with Coleman and Tolzien. At press time, it's still likely that the Packers acquire another quarterback. By the time you read this, that may no longer be the case.
Brett Favre returns yet again from retirement exile
If only you could see the expression on your face right now. It's pretty priceless, trust me.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn