Position: Defensive End
Overview: New England traded Chandler Jones to Arizona after the 2015 season and then watched Jones pile up 41 sacks in three seasons. Thankfully, 2015 fourth-round draft pick Trey Flowers stepped in the following year and quickly established himself as New England’s best pass rusher and edge defender in the running game.
The Patriots are 38-8 in games Flowers plays in (and 8-1 in the playoffs). They are 15-2 in the regular season and 4-0 in the playoffs when he records a sack. He is an absolute force inside as well as outside, moving into different roles on defense and providing the only consistent pass rush the Pats have had for much of the past three seasons.
From 2016-2018, he has 21 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, and 59 quarterback hits while also forcing five fumbles. In the postseason alone, he has 5.5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, and 22 quarterback hits in nine games.
Flowers is likely going to be one of the few young pass rushers to hit the open market. His lack of pure pass rushing skills may keep his cost down a little, but as one of the few productive pass rushers on the market, New England likely has a minimal chance to keep him when he hits free agency. It may be a case where there are too many franchises with too much cap space and not enough quality players, and the Patriots simply end up getting outbid.
UPDATE: As of Monday, Flowers has reportedly agreed to a five-year deal with the Detroit Lions.
Expected Cost: Five years at $15 to $16 million per season for four years, with at least $35 million guaranteed.
Keep or Cut Loose: KEEP