In only one week, the New England Patriots will kick off the 2017 NFL season against the Kansas City Chiefs. By then, the team will have cut its roster from currently 90 players to the regular season limit of 53, plus 10 on the practice squad. As we have all offseason long, we will continue to take a look at the players on the team.
After a set of transactions, there are a few additional entries to the series. Today, we take a closer look at a backup linebacker.
Name: Marquis Flowers
Position: Linebacker / Special teams
Jersey number: 59
Opening day age: 25
Size: 6'3, 250 lbs.
2016 review: After missing the entire 2015 season due to a shoulder injury, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker and special teams ace Marquis Flowers was active for all 16 of his team's games in 2016. Flowers, who joined the NFL as a sixth round draft selection in 2014, saw the vast majority of his action in the kicking game and played a mere two defensive snaps without registering any statistics.
On special teams, for comparison, the Arizona product played a total of 308 snaps (of 442; 69.7%) – the second-highest number on the Bengals. Serving on all four kicking game units either as a blocker or inside rusher, Flowers finished with a team-high eight solo tackles and also registered a fumble recovery in week eight against the Washington Redskins.
Even though his defensive contributions were quasi non-existent, Flowers thus still had a good third year in the leauge – one, that obviously helped him get on the Patriots' radar: Earlier this week, the defending world champions traded a 2018 seventh round draft pick to Cincinnati to acquire Flowers' services.
2017 preview: When Marquis Flowers was brought on board, he joined a talented linebacker corps, but one that is facing some uncertainties behind roster lock Dont'a Hightower. And while Flowers might not be the answer given his limited defensive contributions in the past, he offers an additional layer of depth at the position.
The question is: Will he still do that after Sunday's roster cuts? Given Flowers' past production and experience on multiple special teams units, the chances of that happening appear to be solid. The 25-year old might thus be able to challenge veterans like Jonathan Freeny and Brandon Bolden for a spot on the team.
Of course, that does still not make Flowers a roster lock. Combined with what the Patriots gave up to get him and his relatively modest salary cap hit of $710,000, however, he finds himself in what seems to be a good position to be on the team beyond tonight's preseason finale against the New York Giants – and even if it is only on the practice squad.