The New England Patriots will lose two key members of their Super Bowl LIII-winning squad, as defensive end Trey Flowers and offensive tackle Trent Brown reportedly agreed to lucrative contracts Monday with the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, respectively.
This isn’t exactly a surprising development. The markets for both Flowers and Brown figured to be robust. And while the Patriots could miss each player’s contributions in 2019, Bill Belichick and Co. have a strong track record of finding viable replacements for departing stars.
So, let’s instead focus on the Lions and Raiders, who are shelling out quite a bit of cash to make a splash in free agency. Did they spend wisely or overpay recklessly?
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has been grading the most notable NFL offseason moves — signings and trades — over the last few days. On Monday, he took a whack at grading the Flowers and Brown contracts.
Barnwell’s grade on Flowers’ deal: C+
Here’s an excerpt of Barnwell’s analysis on Flowers’ new contract:
I don’t think I can be too harsh on the Lions for making this move, though. Flowers is still young and talented enough to justify the expenditure, and the Lions absolutely, positively needed to add a top edge rusher. Patricia’s defense finished 29th in pass defense DVOA a year ago, and there aren’t any great cornerbacks on the market. Flowers probably won’t live up to this price tag, but he’ll also probably be good enough that the Lions won’t regret paying a premium to bring him on board.
Brown reportedly agreed to a four-year, $66 million deal with the Raiders, making him the highest-paid offensive tackle in NFL history.
Barnwell’s grade on Brown’s deal: C-
Here’s an excerpt of Barnwell’s analysis on Brown’s new contract:
The 25-year-old Brown, who makes other NFL players look like fans at 6-foot-8 and 380 pounds, was going to get paid. After Donovan Smith re-signed with the Bucs before free agency began, Brown was the only viable left tackle left on the market in a league in which 10 teams annually have left tackles who keep their offensive coordinator up praying at night. It’s a bit of a surprise to see him get a record deal after just one season playing left tackle, though, when you consider that the far more experienced (Nate) Solder got a smaller deal and then didn’t impress in his debut season away from New England.
Flowers turns 26 in August and Brown turns 26 in April. They’re both coming off their rookie contracts and should have several productive years ahead. Barnwell isn’t too high on either deal, though, largely because of the price tags relative to each player’s potential outside New England.
Belichick might have been wise to walk away from the negotiating table, especially since the Patriots reportedly agreed to a trade last week with the Philadelphia Eagles for Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett and have Isaiah Wynn, a 2018 first-round draft pick, primed to protect Tom Brady’s blind side for the foreseeable future upon returning from injury.
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