As the pool of available free agents dwindles, one name that continues to stand out is the Patriots’ former 2015 fourth-round pick Trey Flowers.
When defensive end Trey Flowers left the Patriots after the 2018 season, he was regarded as one of the best edge rushers in the game.
After exploring his free agency options, he signed a massive five-year deal worth $90 million to play for the Detroit Lions. This reunited him with his former defensive coordinator in Matt Patricia, who knew more than anyone how valuable Flowers would be for the team.
The 2019 season would be right on par with what we’d seen from him in New England; playing in 15 games, tallying two forced fumbles, 51 combined tackles, seven sacks, and 21 quarterback hits. But due to injuries throughout the next two years, Flowers would only play in 14 total games, depriving him of the opportunity to perform to his usual standards.
After the 2021 season ended, the Lions chose to release him, creating over $10 million in cap space and giving Flowers the opportunity to explore free agency once again.
But with August right around the corner and all teams league-wide already beginning their training camp practices, Flowers remains a free agent.
According to most insiders and those in the media, Flowers’ best landing spot would be back where it all began, in New England. Are they right?
Do the Patriots have the cap space to sign Flowers?
New England’s defensive line is not necessarily in need of more help per se, but bringing back a familiar face is not uncommon for Belichick to do.
With the contract extension of Davon Godchaux clearing cap space for this season, the Patriots have more money to play with if they choose to. The details of the contract were revealed on Friday, showing the team doubling their previous cap number. They now have nearly $3 million available.
Because his last two seasons were not as productive due to injury, it’s possible Belichick could sign Flowers to a cheaper deal. His familiarity with not only the New England system but also the coaches and his success with said coaches makes him the perfect acquisition at the right price.
However, the Lions are due to pay Flowers $1.4 million in 2022, regardless if he signs with a new team or not. This could create some difficulty for the Patriots in pursuing a cheaper deal, with Paul Perillo of Patriots.com noting, “For example, would $2 million be worth it for Flowers to come back when he would only be making an additional $600,000? So, I think Flowers might be looking for more money before returning in order for it to be worth it”
Does the defense need more help?
The Patriots’ defense is pretty stacked as the roster currently sits, but they do have spots open to sign more talent as training camp is underway.
Flowers becomes an even more intriguing possibility when thinking back to the latter half of the 2021 season. The free agent signing of Matthew Judon paid off quickly during the first half of the year. But his production decreased dramatically throughout the end of the season.
Judon set records for his dominant play week after week, topping Chandler Jones in many categories in just his first season. But a lot of the production fell on his shoulders and his shoulders alone; no other player was able to match or come close to what Judon was getting done.
In the first nine games, Judon totaled nine sacks, 24 combined tackles, four tackles for a loss, and nine quarterback hits. And throughout the last four games of the season, he was unable to add more sacks to his totals on the year.
Compare that to his stats from the first 9 games, (9 sacks, 36 combined tackles, 10 TFL, 16 QB hits, one FR) it was clear that Judon was in need of help. He played in 80% of all defensive snaps on the year and rarely got off the field for a majority of the season.
The addition of Flowers would greatly benefit Judon and also one of the team’s biggest inconsistencies, rushing the opposing quarterback.
How would signing Flowers help the Patriots?
There’s a reason when hitting his first free agency that Flowers was heavily sought after and able to demand a generous contract.
During his time in New England, Flowers created an extraordinary resume particularly that of such a young player. He gained a lot of experience there as well, winning two Super Bowls in just his first four years in the league.
- 46 games played
- 100 combined tackles
- 59 QB hits
- 21 sacks
- 25 tackles for loss
- 6 passes defended
- 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries
- Two Super Bowl wins (SB LI and SB LIII)
Flowers’ stats from 2015-2018 with the Patriots
If he were to return to the Patriots, it’s possible much of his performance won’t have strayed too far from what he did there years ago. At the start of the season, he will still only be 29 years old.
If he can remain healthy, he could continue being a force on the field. Pairing with Judon on the edge would make the defense better equipped to get to the quarterback and also stop the run; both of which have been weaker areas for the team over the past few seasons.
The biggest hurdle that stands in the way of this happening is the money. But Flowers is in charge of his current fate. Teams may not be knocking on his door, so he may need to take less money to rehabilitate his career and the Patriots would be the perfect place to do that.