The New England Patriots came up just short of their ultimate goal in 2017 as the team lost Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. In order to get back onto the top of the NFL mountain, the team – on and off the field personnel – will have to quickly turn the page to get into a position to field the best possible team in 2018; one that will be able to once again compete for the world championship.
A big part of creating such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency. And if judged by the list of free agents to be, New England's front office will be busy over the next few weeks. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents to find out who might or might not get re-signed; and who should be a part of the 2018 Patriots. Today, we'll continue the series with linebacker Marquis Flowers.
#59 LB Marquis Flowers
2018 opening day age: 26
2017 playing time: 19 games (16 regular season + 3 playoffs); 28.5% defensive snaps, 45.2% special teams snaps
2017 statistics: 4.5 sacks, 5 quarterback hits; 36 tackles; 2 special teams tackles
2017 cap number: $690,000
When the Patriots traded a 2018 seventh round draft pick to the Cincinnati Bengals to acquire Flowers' services, the thought was that New England would get a player experienced on special teams but one that would provide limited upside on defense. During his first year with the team, the then-25-year old proved to be a solid addition not only in the kicking game, though.
Flowers' season began as expected: The Arizona product saw most of his playing time on special teams over the Patriots' first half of the year. As the season progressed, however, so did his defensive playing time. Flowers became a regular member of New England's linebacker rotation next to defensive signal caller Kyle Van Noy over the final eight weeks of the regular season and into the playoffs and proved to be a solid player.
Overall, despite missing training camp, Flowers had a solid first year in the Patriots' system. This, in turn, makes him a definite re-sign candidate for the team. Of course, Flowers could be on other clubs' radars as well but ultimately it would not be a surprise to see the team that knows him best be the one to pull the trigger and bring him back on a modest deal reflecting his role as a rotational player on defense and special teams.
Projection: Flowers re-signs with the Patriots on a three-year contract worth a total of around $5.0-$6.0 million.