The New England Patriots figure to be in the market for a pass-rusher after Matt Judon was a one-man wrecking crew in 2021. While second-round phenom Christian Barmore did all he could to assist his teammate, Judon was on an island along the edge.
For the season, Judon finished first on the team with 12.5 sacks, 25 QB hits, 14 tackles for loss and 63 pressures. Nobody was close to challenging those numbers, and that looks even worse when you consider Judon posted zero sacks over the final five games while being chipped and double-teamed.
Again, there was only so much Barmore could do at defensive tackle.
The good news for the Patriots is that there’s a variety of star edge rushers set to hit free agency. The bad news? As of this writing, they aren’t financially equipped to land one of the top dogs on the market
That could force New England to dip its toes into the cap casualty market, and Trey Flowers feels like a classic target in that regard.
Could the Patriots reunite with Trey Flowers this offseason?
Never one to overpay for a free agent, Bill Belichick let Flowers walk following a productive three-year run with the Patriots.
From 2016-2018, the former fourth-round pick racked up 21 sacks, 59 QB hits, 25 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. Like clockwork, the Lions, then supervised by former Patriots Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia, gave Flowers a five-year, $90 million contract during the 2019 offseason.
Flower’s first season in the Motor City was a smashing success, as he posed a regular threat for opposing quarterbacks. The past two seasons, though, have been a different story as injuries have limited him to just 14 games and his output as a pass rusher dramatically declined.
With Quinn and Patricia out of the picture, Flowers’ run in Detroit could come to a screeching halt in the coming weeks or months. With a $23.239 million cap hit and $12.853 million in dead money, the Lions could save $10.386 million by cutting him before June 1, or a whopping $16 million by cutting him after June 1.
When you couple Flowers’ success in the Patriots’ system with Belichick’s propensity to sign/trade for castaways (plus Patricia being back in New England), it’s pretty simple to connect the dots regarding a potential reunion.
Coming off consecutive injury-shortened seasons, Flowers would seemingly fit right into the Patriots’ spending budget. He might not have the reputation of a Chandler Jones, Haason Reddick or Von Miller, but he’d go a long way towards giving Judon the support he needs on the opposite side of the line.