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Free-agency poker: Is Matt Flynn destined for Miami ... or not?

DAVIE, Fla. -- During a brief conversation with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin at the NFL Scouting Combine, I asked the former Packers offensive coordinator what he makes of those who suggest quarterback Matt Flynn is an ideal fit in Miami because of their Green Bay connections.

"I don't know if that prior association is good or bad," said Philbin, who helped tutor Flynn since he entered the league in 2008. "Our job is to make the best decisions we can make."

Maybe it was just a smooth and short way of saying nothing. Maybe it was intended to push some people -- including myself -- into incorrectly believing Miami isn't really that interested in Flynn. When it comes to free agency, you always need to be aware of the poker games being played.

With all of that said, as some now wonder if the Dolphins would be gambling by waiting on Peyton Manning's decision after Flynn hits the open market, it's important for all of us to recognize something about Philbin's sentiment.

Why does a prior relationship automatically mean Philbin believes Flynn is worthy of becoming a highly paid franchise quarterback? Might Philbin be just as aware -- and most likely more than anyone else, given Flynn's limited body of in-game experience -- that Flynn isn't necessarily ready at all?

Here's the greater point in all of this, directed squarely at the people concerned about Miami's current courtship with Manning, which could extend into a period when other teams (perhaps Cleveland and Seattle) begin chasing Flynn:

If Flynn jumps to another team before the Dolphins either sign Manning or abandon the hope of signing him, it should speak loudly about the perceived relationship between the pair. Put yourself in Flynn's shoes for a moment. If you believe that Philbin thinks highly of you (they've got to have a good understanding of that by now), wouldn't you wait to sign a contract in order to either drive up your price or, even more critically, sign with the team where your familiarity with the offense will best suit you?

Sure, I've heard the sentiments expressed privately by Flynn's camp -- that Flynn might not be prone to wait on Miami if the Browns or Seahawks make the right offer. But in this crazy game of poker, I just don't see why the Dolphins wouldn't call that bluff.

There's simply no reason to do so. Even if the Browns give Flynn a take-it-or-leave-it contract offer, Flynn's camp should just as quickly call Cleveland's bluff, as well. This, quite simply, is not a market stocked full of great options at quarterback. What are the Browns going to threaten Flynn with? Kyle Orton? Please. Go right ahead.

Yes, I understand it could throw the NFL world off its axis if -- gulp -- it actually takes a few extra days for a team to sign a quarterback rather than landing him at exactly 4:01 p.m. But last I checked, the season is still nearly six months away and the offseason training program can't even formally begin for teams until April 16.

I also recognize Seattle is a potential threat for the Dolphins, given that Seahawks general manager John Schneider was Ted Thompson's right-hand man in Green Bay when the Packers drafted Flynn out of LSU. But not even Schneider knows Flynn like Philbin does -- something both Philbin and Flynn both surely recognize here.

Without question, there needs to be a level of urgency placed on teams in search of an answer at quarterback. While the Browns and the Seahawks -- depending on their interest level -- would be the two teams that might want to land Flynn as quickly as possible, it simply doesn't make sense for Flynn to jump that fast.

If Flynn feels like the Dolphins' Plan B at quarterback because of the courtship of Manning, well, that's because he is. There's no reason to be offended, particularly when Plan A happens to be arguably the greatest free agent in the history of the NFL. So once again, we return to the overriding lesson for everyone: Chill out.

It only makes sense for Flynn to rush, of course, if Flynn already knows he isn't regarded as a franchise quarterback in Miami. And in that case, well, the Dolphins' fan base should only be concerned about one other question, particularly pertaining to the upcoming season: If Manning doesn't sign, and Flynn isn't the answer ...

Then who is?

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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