The Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks likely had the compensation for Matt Flynn decided upon last Friday when there reports that the trade was imminent. The delay until Monday morning was likely due to two factors. First, the Raiders are said to have given Palmer one last opportunity to restructure his contract. Second, the Raiders were looking to restructure Matt Flynn's deal.
As it turns out, Flynn did in fact restructure his contract. However, as details of the Flynn trade emerged throughout the day on Monday, many were surprised when they learned just how the Raiders restructured Flynn's contract. The new contract for Flynn increased his cap number for 2013, made it fully guaranteed and lowered his cap number for 2014.
Shockingly, the result of the restructure is that the Raiders will be paying about half a million dollars more in 2013 than they would have if they had simply kept Palmer on the roster. But what does it all mean?
Well, without having been in the negotiations or in Reggie McKenzie's head, its impossible to know for sure why the deal was redone in this way, but there are still some things that can be taken away. First and foremost is the fact that the Raiders will not be cutting Matt Flynn this season.
Not a shocker by any means. McKenzie is highly unlikely to give up two picks for a guy that might not make the team no matter how late the picks are. But with all of Flynn's money being guaranteed for the 2013 season, there is absolutely no benefit to cutting Flynn unless the Raiders suddenly find themselves with a glut of QBs.
The other certainty that you can take from the restructure is that the Raiders are setting themselves up to have plenty of cap space when they hit free agency in 2014. It's fairly clear that this was McKenzie's primary focus in restructuring Flynn's contract since he was willing to increase the 2013 cap hit in order to do so.
This, in turn, means that anyone who has been anxiously awaiting the Raiders to go out and sign a few of the top remaining free agents on the market probably shouldn't hold their breath. With the Flynn deal decreasing the available cap space rather than increasing it, the Raiders are much less likely to make many significant free agent moves. More likely McKenzie fills out the roster with cheap players and hopes to find some solid talent in the draft.
I have heard some say that the restructure shows a lot of confidence in Flynn and makes him the guaranteed starter in Oakland, but I am not completely sold on that idea. While it is true that McKenzie knows a lot about Flynn from their time together in Green Bay, that doesn't necessarily mean he is sold on the idea that Flynn is the QB of the future. The reason I say that is because if that were true, a better option for restructuring was available.
If McKenzie was sure that Flynn was the guy, he could have extended Flynn's contract but not add too much money. The result would be that the Raiders could lower the cap hit in both 2013 and 2014 while also locking in their starting quarterback for an extra year. The restructure does show confidence in Flynn, enough to guarantee he will be on the roster in 2013 and have a strong shot at starting, but not enough to make too many guarantees beyond that.
Again, we may never know why McKenzie structured the contract the way he did, but it certainly makes for some intriguing implications as to the future of the Raiders organization.