The NFL’s annual scouting combine is not just the place for draft prospects to showcase their skills, it also is a breeding ground for rumors regarding the league’s upcoming free agency period. Since a lot can and will change between now and when the market opens on March 13, these rumors need to be treated carefully and as what they are: rumors. However, they can still give at least some overview about an existence of interest.
In the New England Patriots’ case, two players were mentioned recently. Wide receiver Chris Hogan is projected to generate a “decent market” once (or if) he becomes a free agent next month, all while defensive edge Trey Flowers will reportedly be courted by one of the Patriots’ division rivals: according to a report by Draft Analyst’s Tony Pauline, the Miami Dolphins are currently the front-runners for Flowers’ services.
Flowers is of course entering free agency coming off the best season of his four-year career. The former fourth-round draft pick was outstanding as a run defender in 2018 and also an impact player against the pass despite a comparatively low total number of sacks. All in all, he once again led the Patriots in combined quarterback pressures (76.5) and ranked second in the NFL in the same statistic for primary edge rushers.
Flowers’ usage, however, went beyond that of a classic pass rusher and edge setter in the running game. New England liked to move him around the line of scrimmage to create favorable matchups not just for him but also the rest of the front-line players: able to play virtually every technique along the line, he finished the 2018 season as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-ranked edge defender — and number three among free agents-to-be.
Seeing the Dolphins be interested in this kind of talent does not come as a surprise. After all, Miami introduced former Patriots defensive signal caller Brian Flores as its new head coach shortly after New England won the Super Bowl in early February. The natural connection between Flores and Flowers alone makes the Dolphins one of the teams expected to be in the sweepstakes for the 25-year old.
The question from Miami’s perspective will be how the team fits Flowers under its salary cap as the club currently has only $11.4 million available, per Over The Cap. New England, for comparison, is listed with a cap space number of $21.2 million. That being said, the Dolphins could create additional flexibility by releasing high-priced players like ex-Patriot Danny Amendola, wide receiver DeVante Parker or even quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In turn, Miami could very well enter the race for Flowers.