NFL free agency remains several weeks away, with the legal tampering window set to begin March 11 and the free agency signing period to begin at 4 p.m. ET on March 13.
As we do annually here at Big Blue View, between now and when free agency begins we will be profiling players who could be fits for the New York Giants. This week we are touching on some of the players on Super Bowl 53 participants the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams who could be headed to the open market.
Trey Flowers, DE, Patriots
Age: 26 in August
Experience: 4 seasons
2018 stats: 7.5 sacks (career high), 57 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits
Pro Football Focus: Flowers had a grade of 90.4, third-highest among all NFL edge defenders. PFF says:
Trey Flowers’ run defense was the biggest reason for his excellent 2018 campaign. His run-defense grade of 88.5 ranked third among edge defenders, and his run-stop percentage of 10.5% ranked sixth. Flowers was also solid as a pass rusher, finishing the regular season with the 13th-best pass-rushing grade (80.1) among edge defenders. Flowers is a young, do-it-all edge defender and could be a finishing piece to a building defense. The Patriots would be wise to re-sign him.
Whether you believe in building a defense from front to back — line to secondary — or vice versa, I think Giants fans should all be able to agree that no matter the position defensive coordinator James Bettcher needs better players.
Flowers happens to be a really good player and, entering his age 26 season, should just be reaching the prime of his career.
The Giants have a developing Lorenzo Carter on the edge, and will hope for a big step forward from the 2018 second-round pick in 2019. They have the useful but not dynamic Kareem Martin. Beyond that, uncertainty.
As of now, we don’t know if Olivier Vernon will play for the Giants again. Vernon is a productive player and good but not great pass rusher. He has missed nine games over the past two seasons with injuries. The Giants could save $15.5 million against the salary cap by designating Vernon a post-June 1 cut. Word from the Senior Bowl last week was that there is a “real possibility” the Giants will move on from Vernon, and that coincides with my own expectations.
If the Giants move on from Vernon, they could turn to a 2019 NFL Draft class that is supposed to be flush with edge defenders. Or, they could turn to free agency where Flowers is part of a group of pass rushers including Demarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford, Ziggy Ansah, Brandon Graham and Frank Clark who could be headed to the market. Maybe they could even decide to do both.
The Athletic [subscription only] says Flowers is “going to get paid this offseason.” Spotrac estimates Flowers market value to be five years, $76.856 million, an average of $15.3 million annually.
The Athletic also calls the 6-foot-2, 265-pound Flowers “the anchor of the Patriots front seven” and says “he is consistently disruptive, a force on most Sundays and having the best season of his four-year career.”
In an article published in Forbes, Patriots defensive line coach Brendan Daly said Flowers is “smart, he’s instinctive, he plays with great fundamentals and technique.” Daly also called him an “unselfish player” who is “willing to do whatever you ask him to do.”
The Patriots used Flowers in just about every way imaginable in 2018. Just look at the chart below:
You think Bettcher, a creative coordinator in his own right, would have fun scheming up ways to use Flowers?
Will the Patriots let him get away? Bill Belichick knows what he has in Flowers. This was Belichick praising Flowers after a late-season victory over the New York Jets:
“He’s a tough matchup guy. He played left end and he also played inside today, as he does most games. He can match up on the tackles. He can match up on the guards and centers and that gives us some flexibility with some other players as well.
“He’s had a tremendous year for us and he always does a tremendous job,” Belichick said. “Nobody works harder than Trey does. His toughness, his durability, his consistency, and his ability to play the running game, and play it in different positions, you don’t see a lot of guys on the defensive line (do that), but he’s done it well.”
Flowers’ teammates also know how good he is:
“Trey Flowers, he’s one of the best in the NFL,” Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy said. “He should be first-team All-Pro. Should be a Pro Bowler. We know how that goes. When you see him, we know how important he is and how good he is. He’s going to get paid a lot of money for it.”
Could Flowers land with the Giants? Maybe. Maybe not. It certainly, however, is an intriguing thought.