FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 30: Trey Flowers #98 of the New England Patriots reacts during the third quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

After spending the first four years of his career with the New England Patriots, defensive end Trey Flowers is officially ready to test free agency for the first time in his career. Flowers, a 2015 fourth-round draft pick, finished his 2018 season with 7.5 sacks, 57 tackles, and 20 quarterback hits.

2019 NFL Free Agency Master List

Flowers was easily the Patriots’ best edge defender throughout 2018 and is due for a big payday. While he only recorded 7.5 sacks, he was far more disruptive than that one statistic would indicate. A dual player who can defend the run and the pass at an elite level, Flower constantly dominated single-team blocks and finished the season with 60.5 “disruptions”, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. Howe defines disruptions as sacks, quarterback hits, and pressures, and Flowers’ 60.5 was the most on the Patriots over the past four seasons. Flowers continued his dominance in the 2018 postseason, recording two sacks, six tackles, and six quarterback hits. All this combined to make Flowers the third-ranked edge defender, per Pro Football Focus.

This fantastic season was no lone outlier, as Flowers has played at this level ever since the 2016 season. After missing the grand majority of his rookie year to an injury, Flowers began 2016 as a rotational piece of the defensive line. However, as the season wore on Flowers leapfrogged Jabaal Sheard to earn a starting job. He was arguably the best lineman on that Super Bowl-winning unit, and his 2.5 sacks in Super Bowl LI played a big role in New England’s ultimate victory.

In all, Flowers appeared in 30 of a possible 32 games in 2016 and 2017, recording a combined 13.5 sacks, 39 quarterback hits, 107 tackles, and 16 tackles for loss. He’s been one of the best and most consistent players in the league ever since he earned his starting job.

Possible Fits

Quite frankly, it’s hard to think of a team who wouldn’t want Trey Flowers. As previously mentioned, he’s been one of the better edge defenders in the league for the majority of the past three seasons. He’ll be 26 at the start of the 2019 season, so Flowers is still very much in the prime of his career. You can never have too many edge rushers, so just about every team in the league would take Flowers at the right price.

That said, the most likely contenders for Flowers’ services are probably the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, and Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots are an obvious choice, as Flowers has been a core member of their defense over the past few seasons. The Patriots are projected to have approximately $25,271,510 in cap space, per Spotrac. New England could probably afford to bring Flowers back, although it would take a sizable chunk out of their available cap space.

The Raiders and the Bills, meanwhile, both have clear needs on the edge and a sizeable amount of money to spend. Per Football Outsiders, the Raiders had the 25th-ranked defensive line against the run and the 32nd-ranked defensive line against the pass. With a projected $75,231,070 in cap space, Oakland can easily afford to bring Flowers over without sacrificing their ability to build a competitive roster. The Colts are in an even better spot, entering the 2019 season with an estimated $107.5 million in cap space. The defensive line is probably the weakest part of the roster and Flowers would take a dangerous roster to the next level.

While they don’t have that much available cap space, the Miami Dolphins could also look to bring Flowers aboard. First-year head coach Brian Flores knows everything Flowers brings to the table after coaching him with New England. Flowers was the centerpiece to Flores’ defense, and the defensive-minded head coach would certainly love to build a defense around a guy like Flowers.

Last Word on Trey Flowers

Trey Flowers is one of the better edge defenders in the league and should earn a hefty payday in the 2019 off-season. Flowers finished the year as the third-ranked edge defender, recording 7.5 sacks, 57 tackles, and 20 quarterback hits. He’s been a consistently dominant player since 2016 and is entering the prime of his career.

Just about every team in the league would love to have Trey Flowers, but only a few could realistically afford him. The New England Patriots would love to bring him back, but other teams have significantly more cap space. If it came to a bidding war, the Patriots wouldn’t be able to pay what the Raiders and similar teams could pay.

Flowers is one of the leagues best-kept secrets since he doesn’t have the highest sack total. However, Flowers is proving that you don’t need to rack up sacks to be one of the league’s elite defenders. Look for him to land a multi-year deal for anything from 13-17 million a year.

2019 NFL Free Agency Master List

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