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Trey Flowers might get one of the biggest edge rusher deals in NFL history

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The 25-year-old could be in line for a huge payday.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots Press Conference Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have a long list of players about to enter free agency, but one name stands out among them: Trey Flowers. The standout edge defender is not just one of the Patriots’ best players, but also the top option available at his position on the open market. Naturally, he is expected to generate plenty of interest and if ESPN’s Dan Graziano is to be believed get an enormous contract.

Graziano shared some last-minute free agency thoughts earlier today and one among them stands out:

Multiple sources expect former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers to get a monster deal (maybe in excess of $18 million per year) on the open market after many of the top free-agent pass-rushers got franchised. Two of Flowers’ former New England defensive coordinators are now head coaches: Brian Flores in Miami and Matt Patricia in Detroit. Watch Flowers for the Lions, who are expected to be among the most aggressive players on this market.

If Graziano’s projection turns out to be true, Flowers will be paid as one of the top edge defenders in the NFL. In fact, only three players at the position are currently earning upwards of $18 million this year: the Chicago BearsKhalil Mack and the Denver BroncosVon Miller average $23.5 million and $19.1 million, while the Dallas CowboysDeMarcus Lawrence is earning $20.6 million on the one-year contract that is the franchise tag.

Of course, there is one difference between Flowers and the trio: he would be the only one to sign his deal after entering the open market. Mack signed his contract last year shortly after getting traded to Chicago, while Miller signed his in 2016 following the Broncos’ decision to place the franchise tag on him. Lawrence, of course, could also get a new contract from Dallas while still under tag.

Flowers might very well join this illustrious group on the list of the highest-paid defenders now — and nobody should be surprised if it really happens: not only is the 25-year-old a tremendous player against both the pass and the run, the market has also developed favorably for him after four other defensive edges were franchise-tagged by their respective teams. This, in turn, has left Flowers as the clear top option available.

Patriots fans should therefore not be surprised if the former fourth-round draft pick left via free agency — something colleague Brian Phillips already proclaimed last December — to sign one of the biggest edge rusher deals in NFL history.