The New England Patriots are currently enjoying a bye week, but are not only using it to prepare for one of their three potential divisional round opponents. As assistant coaches Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores are scheduled to do head coaching interviews, it seems likely that the Patriots front office is currently working on some contract situations: multiple times over the years, the team has reached agreements during a playoff bye.
One name that should be high up on the club’s list of priorities is defensive edge Trey Flowers. The 25-year old is New England’s best front seven defender and about to hit unrestricted free agency in two months. Getting him locked up before early March has to be imperative for the club, because Flowers will be a popular man once he reaches the open market — something not lost on his teammates.
One fellow Patriot, according to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, expressed his feelings on Flowers as follows:
Every team in the league should be lined up to pay that mother<bleeper>. <Bleep> all those other guys hitting free agency. Mother<bleeper> balls. Every week. I’d ride with that bad ass mother<bleeper>.
While the profanity adds a humorous note, the message in itself is a correct one. Flowers is indeed balling every week: as a core player in the Patriots defense, he played 70.2% of the team’s defensive snaps this season and produced arguably the finest year of his career — leading the Patriots in every major pass rushing category.
Over the 15 games he played so far this season, Flowers has registered 7.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits and 33 hurries (via The Athletic’s Jeff Howe). Advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus, meanwhile, has the former fourth-round draft pick ranked as the third best edge defender of the regular season, and named him to its second-team All-Pro squad.
Safe to say that the Pro Bowl snub will receive plenty of attention if he is allowed to hit the open market. And with the Patriots currently scheduled to be just $18.1 million under the salary cap next year according to salary cap expert Miguel Benzan, the team might not be able to get into a bidding war for one of its most valuable players. Locking him up early would therefore be perfect from New England’s perspective — but unfortunately for team not quite as desirable when it comes to the player.