By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Trey Flowers remains one of the top players available when NFL free agency kicks off on Wednesday. And to the surprise of no one, he's expected to find courtship with two ex-Patriots coaches.
As previously reported, Flowers continues to be a target for the Miami Dolphins and former Patriots defensive play-caller Brian Flores, who just flew south for his first head coaching gig. Per CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Dolphins and now the Detroit Lions are both "big on Flowers" ahead of the start of free agency. Miami was previously considered the front-runner.
It's no surprise that the Lions are also hot on Flowers' trail. Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is entering his second year as head coach and former scouting director Bob Quinn will be in his fourth as GM. Detroit is also looking to replace fellow free-agent edge defender Ezekiel Ansah.
Flowers could land in a market that pays him around the franchise tag number of $17.1 million annually. Even just below that figure may price the Patriots out if the Dolphins and Lions are serious about battling for his services. It appears Bill Belichick is comfortable letting Flowers field offers then circle back to the Pats to see if they bring something similar, per Mike Giardi.
The Patriots used the same approach on other key free agents who ended up re-signing, like Dont'a Hightower, Devin McCourty, and Julian Edelman. It's a little risker to go that route with a pass rusher, and Flowers is widely considered the best available after franchise tags took several big names off the market.
Belichick may be betting that teams ultimately see Flowers as a very-good-but-not-elite asset that would command a commensurate A-minus contract, the kind the Pats would match. Maybe his offseason shoulder surgery limits his market. But for the Dolphins or Lions to be the teams showing "big" interest, there's a chance they're willing to safely outbid Belichick for one of the best homegrown edge defenders of his entire tenure. And a guy who apparently wants to get the Patriots a seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].