The New England Patriots’ top two free agents both will be signing elsewhere later this week.
Hours after offensive tackle Trent Brown’s record-breaking deal with the Oakland Raiders was reported, news broke Monday that defensive end Trey Flowers had agreed to terms on a massive five-year contract with the Detroit Lions.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report Flowers’ impending signing, which cannot be made official until the NFL league year opens Wednesday afternoon. The contract will pay Flowers between $16 million and $17 million annually, per reports.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, the Lions’ offer was “significantly better” than what the Patriots were willing to give Flowers, who turns 26 this summer.
The move to Detroit reunites Flowers with Matt Patricia, who spent a decade as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach of the Lions last offseason. Patricia coached Flowers in each of his first three NFL seasons.
Detroit also added two other ex-Patriots on Monday, signing wide receiver Danny Amendola and reportedly agreeing to terms on a deal that would make Justin Coleman the league’s highest-paid nickel cornerback.
Flowers, a fourth-round draft pick out of Arkansas in 2015, played in three Super Bowls during his time with the Patriots, winning two. He tallied a career-high 7 1/2 sacks during the 2018 season, plus another two in the playoffs.
Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy congratulated Flowers on Twitter shortly after his mega-deal was reported.
The Patriots began planning for life after Flowers — their leader in sacks, quarterback hits and tackles for loss in each of the last three seasons — last Friday by working out a trade for Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett. That trade is expected to be finalized Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Bennett, who tallied nine sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 30 QB hits in his lone season in Philly, joins Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise, Derek Rivers, Ufomba Kamalu, Keionta Davis and Trent Harris on the Patriots’ D-end depth chart.
Veteran D-end/linebacker John Simon, who’s set to hit free agency this week, told ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss he and the Patriots have engaged in talks about potentially re-signing. New England also could look to bolster this position through the 2019 NFL Draft, which is loaded with talented edge rushers and defensive linemen.
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