As we start to eye next month’s free agency period, one of the biggest crown jewels of this year’s class is New England Patriots’ edge defender Trey Flowers. Good pass rushers are hard to come by in free agency, and Flowers put up outstanding numbers in 2018. Pro Football Focus graded him as the sixth best edge defender, he tallied 7.5 sacks (and an additional two in the playoffs) and his 78 quarterback pressures were the second most of any player last year.
For the Detroit Lions, Flowers is a dream. He’s extremely talented, he’s hitting the prime of his career (25 years old), he’s also pretty impressive against the run, and he’s an easy fit in Detroit’s scheme. With head coach Matt Patricia coaching Flowers for three years in New England, the Lions clearly know the value in Flowers’ game.
However, for Flowers to even hit free agency, he has to get to March 13 without being re-signed by the Patriots. And according to one Patriots beat writer, that probably won’t even happen.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss made his free agent predictions for New England, giving a percentage of likeliness that the team re-signs their players. Reiss is giving the Patriots a 70 percent chance of re-signing Trey Flowers in 2019.
“The 25-year-old is in his prime years and worthy of a big investment in New England, as he reflects, in many ways, what Belichick’s program is all about,” Reiss wrote.
One question that remains about the Patriots re-signing Flowers is how they’ll fit him under their cap. At the moment, the Patriots are estimated to have just $14.7 million in cap space, ranking 25th in the NFL. New England is also facing some other difficult decisions with their own free agents. Left tackle Trent Brown, cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe and kicker Stephen Gostkowski all have expiring contracts. The team will have to make concessions.
In the past, the Patriots have skimped on defensive end spending. We saw New England let guys like Richard Seymour and Chandler Jones go at the peak of their production before—though both of those players were traded before they entered free agency. It is not a foregone conclusion, therefore, that the Patriots will re-sign Flowers.
As for the Lions, if Flowers does hit free agency, he won’t come cheap. Though he isn’t a perfect fit for everyone, pass rushers are an extremely valued commodity, and don’t rule out the Dolphins making an aggressive move for him. With former Patriots linebacker coach Brian Flores now running the show in Miami, there’s a chance Patricia would get in a bidding war with his former co-worker if Flowers hit free agency.
That’s all to say that the Lions will have to beat some tough odds to get Flowers playing in Honolulu Blue next season. But with a month still left until free agency, there’s no harm is dreaming.