The New England Patriots undoubtedly are focused on the Kansas City Chiefs, who they’ll face this Sunday in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium with a trip to Super Bowl LIII on the line.
But you can bet the organization also is cognizant of the decisions it must make once the book closes on the 2018 NFL season.
ESPN.com published a piece Wednesday identifying the biggest looming free agency decisions facing all 32 NFL teams this offseason. The New England Patriots have several players set to hit the open market, but ESPN’s Mike Reiss explained why Trey Flowers’ situation stands above the rest.
Here’s what Reiss wrote about the Patriots pass rusher:
Flowers is a perfect fit for the Patriots’ multiple scheme because he can play a traditional role on the edge or move inside to play over a guard or center — and is equally as effective as a pass-rusher or defending the run. The Patriots value that as much as any team, which is why Flowers figures to be a top priority to retain, not to mention that he is a top “program” guy in the locker room. Because Flowers isn’t an elite speed rusher, he might not command a top-of-the-market contract, but a significant payday is coming his way. — Mike Reiss
Flowers, a fourth-round pick in 2015, has led the Patriots in sacks in each of the last three seasons. The 25-year-old defensive end totaled a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2018.
Flowers is one of the most valuable members of New England’s defense, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the team is aggressive in trying to keep him in Foxboro. As Reiss mentioned, Flowers’ market should be rather robust, perhaps leading to his departure despite how well he’s performed in his four seasons with the Patriots.
The Patriots’ other notable free agents this offseason include cornerbacks Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe, defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Malcom Brown, offensive linemen Trent Brown and LaAdrian Waddle, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Ryan Allen and wide receivers Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson and Phillip Dorsett.