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2019 NFL free agency: Five defenders get the franchise tag, the Patriots’ Trey Flowers not among them

Trey Flowers might become the best edge rusher available in free agency.

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

2019 is an excellent year for edge defenders. Not only does this year’s draft class project to be one of the deepest at the position in recent memory, but the players about to hit free agency are also of high quality. One of them is, of course, the New England PatriotsTrey Flowers — and there appears to be a chance that he will be the best of the group to actually enter the open market when it opens on March 13.

After all, four other members of the free agency class that share a position with the 25-year old have all received the franchise tag today:

DE DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys

DE Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans

DE Frank Clark, Seattle Seahawks

A fourth defender, the Atlanta FalconsGrady Jarrett, was also tagged by his team today. The total number of unrestricted free agents to receive the franchise tag has therefore risen to five, with San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould the other member of the club. Of course, the four defensive linemen have a higher financial impact on their respective teams’ salary caps than the former Patriots undrafted free agent signing.

While the franchise tag number for defensive tackles was set at $15.209 million, defensive ends are valued at $17.128 million under the franchise tag. And while the Cowboys, Texans and Seahawks apparently all feel like their players are worth that on a fully-guaranteed one-year deal or feel confident to get a contract extension done soon, it looks as if New England is planning to play free agency similar to how it did in the past.

Unless the team does the unexpected and tags Flowers before Tuesday’s deadline, he will enter free agency and be a highly coveted player — but one that might come back to New England to give the team the chance to match an offer. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Devin McCourty, two other high-quality Patriots defender to enter free agency over the last few years, had exactly that experience but ultimately returned.

Whether or not Flowers will go down the same path remains to be seen, but New England appears to be willing to take its chances.

[UPDATE 03/03] According to The MMQB’s Albert Breer, the Kansas City Chiefs also used the franchise tag on one of their edge defenders: the AFC’s runner-ups tagged Dee Ford today.