So now that the deadline for slapping the Franchise Tag (Note that the verb you use with the Tag is always “slap,” in the same way that hurricanes always “barrel” up the coast, while winter storms “bear down” on the region. That’s Cliche Journalism 101.) on free agents is gone without the Patriots slapping it (See?) on any of theirs, it’s time to have a mature, heart-to-heart talk. And for the purposes of this discussion, I’ll be using the tone your dad used when he told you what really happened to your dog and the vet didn’t really send him off to go live on an island with a bunch of other dogs.
Trey Flowers is gone, and he’s not coming back.
That’s not something I say lightly. And for sure I hope I’m wrong. But now is the perfect time for us to face facts. During the legal tampering period and before Free Agency officially begins, it’s our opportunity to resign ourselves to the fact Flowers is almost certain to sign somewhere else, and for huge money.
Any reasonable opportunity the Pats had to keep Flowers has pretty much dried up over the last few days, thanks to other Tag slaps by other teams. You could make a case that the top five free agents on the market this year were all Edge players. And here’s what’s happened with the other four:
Even if, as expected, Jadeveon Clowney and DeMarcus Lawrence refuse to sign, that’s still four Edge rushers taken off the market. What might have been a buyer’s market turned into a monopoly for Flowers. In a few days, every GM in the league desperate for an DE/OLB will come looking, and he’ll be their only option. Flowers will be Sir Galahad the Chaste at the Castle Anthrax:
And expecting him not to cash in is a big ask. The Tag number on his position is $17.1 million, guaranteed. Meaning that’s where the bidding begins. It’s entirely possible he cares enough about winning to take a home town discount. A few Patriots have in recent memory. Devin McCourty tested the market before reenlisting. In 2017, Dont’a Hightower was chosen by ESPN as the best free agent on the market. And he re-signed even after the Jets tempted him with birthday cupcakes. BIRTHDAY. CUPCAKES. Probably good ones, too. From one of those specialty shops you see on Cupcake Wars, and not just the crappy supermarket bakery ones that come in the plastic packaging they sell next to the St. Patrick’s Day cookies like the brokeass Patriots would’ve offered him.
But while it’s possible Flowers comes back, I just can’t imagine anyone turning down the preposterous money available at his position. Especially for a guy who’s built up a resume of big plays in huge games:
So why wouldn’t Bill Belichick just keep him, if he’s worth so much? Because he’s worth that much to someone else, not to Belichick. Just like they replaced Mike Vrabel with Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones with Flowers, they’ll replace Flowers with someone else. Probably by expanding the roles of Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise, Jr.
Because as much of a find Trey Flowers was and what a key asset he turned himself into, let’s not lose sight of the fact he was the 101st pick of the 2015 draft. And when he leaves, they’ll get a 3rd round compensatory pick for him, just like they got for Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler. And would you care to guess what pick they got for losing Butler?
The Pats will let Trey Flowers go because this is how they sustain the perpetual motion machine that is this dynasty. Spring is about losing players around here, but it’s also about renewal. Best of luck to him if/when he does go. But this team will be fine.