Trey Flowers

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Wilson, Patriots

Byron Jones is moving toward a lost season, but the Dolphins are not giving up hope on the eighth-year defender. Mike McDaniel did confirm Jones is still not ready to practice due to the ankle and Achilles operation he underwent in March. While the high-priced cornerback was expected to be ready for training camp, it has obviously brought concern he remains on the shelf into Thanksgiving week. McDaniel said this week he is optimistic Jones will, in fact, suit up at some point this season, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes.

The Dolphins have been without Jones and Nik Needham, given a second-round RFA tender to stay in Miami this year, for weeks. Needham is out for the season. Jones’ absence — by far his longest as a pro — has left the 7-3 team shorthanded at corner. It will be interesting to see if Jones can indeed contribute for the Fins this season. By restructuring Jones’ five-year, $82.5MM deal this offseason, the Dolphins added some future dead money to the contract — in the event they want to move on before its conclusion.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Faced with the prospect of a second-year demotion, Zach Wilson may be losing some support in the Jets locker room. Wilson indicated he did not feel his 9-for-22, 77-yard passing performance against the Patriots let the team’s defense down, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes those remarks upset some defenders. The former No. 2 overall pick piloted an offense that totaled 103 yards against the Pats — the fourth-fewest in Jets history — months after a Wilson-led attack set a franchise record with 53 yards in Week 18 of last season. Monday marked the first time Saleh has threatened to bench Wilson, who earned his job back following each of his knee injuries over the past two seasons. Wilson ranks 23rd in QBR (45.1) but is second-to-last in passer rating (72.6).
  • The Patriots placed Christian Barmore on IR last week, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (via Twitter) the team expects him to return later this season. The second-year defensive tackle has battled knee inflammation for weeks. Surgery is not on the agenda here, per Schefter, who adds New England anticipates Barmore returning after the four-week IR minimum. He is eligible to come back in Week 15.
  • Joining Jones on the injury front, Trey Flowers is unlikely to come off the Dolphins‘ IR list for a bit. McDaniel said (via Jackson) Flowers is not close to returning from the foot injury that sidelined him in mid-October. Flowers is eligible to return from IR this week, but it cannot be assumed he comes off IR this season. The Dolphins do have six injury activations remaining, however, providing some flexibility even when factoring in the Jones situation. Flowers, who sat in free agency for months prior to his Dolphins agreement, played just 65 defensive snaps with his new team this season. Injuries hindered Flowers significantly in Detroit as well. The Dolphins have both he and Emmanuel Ogbah out of the equation at defensive end.
  • Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona said he would like to see his position more respected, salary-wise, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com posits this could affect how Cardona approaches his free agency. Cardona would have his work cut out for him if he takes such a stance. Long snappers are the league’s lowest-paid players, with each earning the league minimum or just north of that. Browns snapper Charley Hughlett signed an extension this year that made him the league’s highest-paid snapper — at $1.4MM per year.

Dolphins Place CB Nik Needham, LB Trey Flowers On IR

The Dolphins placed a pair of defenders on IR today. The team announced that linebacker Trey Flowers and cornerback Nik Needham have landed on injured reserve.

[RELATED: Dolphins CB Nik Needham Suffers Torn Achilles]

Needham’s placement on IR isn’t a surprise. The defensive back suffered a torn Achilles during Sunday’s loss to the Vikings, ending his season. Needham was operating as a starter in 2022, filling in for Byron Jones while the veteran continues to recover from his own Achilles tear. The 25-year-old is set to be a free agent following the season after being hit with a second-round tender this past offseason.

Miami’s current grouping of healthy cornerbacks includes Justin Bethel, Xavien Howard, Noah Igbinoghene, and Kader Kohou, with defensive backs Elijah Campbell and Keion Crossen also candidates to get snaps at the position. Crossen missed practice today while Kohou and Howard were limited.

Flowers left Sunday’s game with a foot issue, and the injury was apparently so severe that it’ll knock him off the field for at least the next four games. Miami has a bye week in Week 11, making Week 12 a potential return date for the veteran linebacker.

After three disappointing seasons in Detroit, Flowers joined the Dolphins in August. He saw time in four games, although his playing time was inconsistent. He had a significant role during Miami’s Week 3 win over the Bills, a game that saw him collect a pair of tackles. Andrew Van Ginkel could see a jump in snaps with Flowers out of the lineup.

Dolphins To Sign Trey Flowers

The Dolphins are adding another experienced player to their edge room. The team has reached agreement on a deal with Trey Flowers, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the contract is one year in length, and carries a base value of $2.1MM, which can reach $3MM via incentives. 

The 29-year-old visited Miami last week, so a deal being struck comes as little surprise. Flowers will return to the AFC East after three years spent with the Lions. He was a full-time starter in Detroit, but injuries marred the final two years of his tenure there. After the team couldn’t find a trade partner, they released him.

That left him on the open market without any reported interest until the Dolphins hosted him. Flowers will mark the second veteran free agent addition in the pass-rush department; Melvin Ingram signed in May despite having been the recipient of a UFA tender from the Chiefs. He is expected to operate as a rotational rusher, as Flowers likely will as well.

The Arkansas alum established himself as a consistent, disruptive presence during his time with the Patriots to start his career. After he made just one appearance as a rookie, Flowers totaled 21 sacks and five forced fumbles between 2016 and 2018. That led to his five-year deal with the Lions; despite failing to live up to that contract, he should be able to serve at least a backup function effectively with the Dolphins this year.

Miami re-signed Emmanuel Ogbah this offseason, and he is in line to start alongside 2021 first-rounder Jaelan PhillipsWith Ingram, and now Flowers, behind them on the depth chart, however, a Dolphins defensive front which ranked sixth in the league in sacks last season has even more quality on the edge.

Dolphins To Work Out DE Trey Flowers

Trey Flowers may have an opportunity to be an AFC East pass rusher again. The Dolphins are working out the former Patriots and Lions edge defender, per Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter).

This marks Flowers’ first known audition since the Lions made him a cap casualty in March. Flowers spent the past three years in Detroit, following former New England DC Matt Patricia to the Lions. While the big-ticket contract Flowers signed in 2019 did not end up producing big results, the seven-year veteran remains one of the top players available.

The former Patriots standout, who turned 29 last week, struggled with injuries with the Lions. He played in just seven games in each of the past two seasons. He finished his final two Lions seasons on IR, totaling just 3.5 sacks in that span. With the Patriots, however, Flowers played a major role in helping the team to three straight Super Bowls. He will be looking for a bounce-back opportunity in 2022.

Flowers signed a five-year, $90MM Lions pact in 2019, coming to Michigan after being New England’s top edge for multiple seasons. The former fourth-round pick became a reliable cog for the Pats following their 2016 Chandler Jones trade. Flowers recorded 21 sacks and 59 quarterback hits from 2016-18, forcing five fumbles in that span. He added 5.5 sacks in the playoffs, including a 2.5-sack showing in Super Bowl LI. While Flowers showed some of that form in Detroit, tallying seven sacks and 21 QB hits in 2019, injuries derailed his run on that monster contract.

When at full strength, the Dolphins are fairly well-situated on the edge. They re-signed Emmanuel Ogbah in March and added Melvin Ingram shortly after the draft. The team also has 2021 first-round pick Jaelan Phillips under long-term contract. A Flowers addition would seemingly be a move to add a rotational rusher.

Although Brian Flores is no longer with the Dolphins, the defensive coordinator he brought over — Josh Boyer — remains with the team. Boyer was in New England during Flowers’ stay, working as the Pats’ cornerbacks coach during that time.

Packers Eyeing Veteran Edge Addition?

The Packers have made a number of changes to their edge rush group this offseason, but another addition may be in the cards. The team “might be looking for upgrades” at the position, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky

Green Bay lost Za’Darius Smith in free agency to the Ravens, it appeared at first, but he ultimately signed with the Vikings. With the two-time Pro Bowler gone, it became increasingly important that the Packers had re-signed fellow veteran pass rusher Preston Smith at the onset of free agency.

The latter is set to maintain his starting role in 2022. He will be paired with 2019 first-rounder Rashan Gary, who took a significant step forward last season. While that tandem should be in line to replicate their playing time and production from 2021, depth has been a talking point throughout the offseason.

To little surprise, Green Bay added Kingsley Enagbare in the fifth round of the draft to help address that need. The South Carolina product never had more than six sacks in a single college season, but he is listed in Demovsky’s projected depth chart as the No. 3 edge rusher on the roster. Another name included is that of Randy Ramsey, who played almost exclusively on special teams in 2020 as a rookie, and missed the entire 2021 campaign due to an ankle injury.

With very little experience behind Smith and Gary, a veteran signing would make plenty of sense. Some of the top free agents still available include Jason Pierre-PaulTrey Flowers and, depending on the outcome regarding his UFA tenderJustin Houston. Green Bay currently ranks in the top-10 in the league in cap space, so a short-term, low-cost addition would also be financially feasible. Whether they choose to make one in the coming days or weeks could be one of the most important roster decisions still facing the team.

Ravens Seeking Veteran Edge Rush Addition?

This time of the offseason is rife with teams looking to round out their depth charts with available veterans who can help fill remaining roster holes. In the case of the Ravens, that could lead them to be players on the edge rusher market. 

[RELATED: Ravens Eyeing Veteran WRs?]

Jeff Zrebiec of the Athletic (subscription required) writes that Baltimore will “likely still sign a free agent pass rusher”. The team has already added a number of notable players on defense recently, including veteran cornerback Kyle Fuller. Their front seven could stand to be bolstered further, though.

The Ravens currently have Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh at the top of their depth chart at the outside linebacker position. The former stepped into a larger role after the departures of Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue last offseason, and responded by putting up career highs in sacks (seven) and tackles (59). However, he suffered a torn Achilles in the season finale, putting his Week 1 availability in question.

That would place an even heavier burden on Oweh, who flashed potential with a five-sack rookie campaign, and the team’s other young options at the position, Jaylon FergusonDaelin Hayes and, potentially at some point this season, David Ojabo. As a result, it came as little surprise when general manager Eric DeCosta said in April that the team wasn’t finished making additions in the edge department. However, the team didn’t select a pass rusher in the draft other than the injured Ojabo, leaving the June free agent market as the last realistic avenue to add to the unit.

With respect to veterans, the likeliest move could be a reunion with Justin Houston. The Ravens placed the rarely-used UFA tender on the 33-year-old last month, pointing to another low-cost, one-year deal being possible in the near future. The longtime Chief totalled 4.5 sacks in 15 games, providing an experienced presence to an otherwise young unit. If not Houston, other options for the Ravens to target include Trey Flowers and Jason Pierre-Paul. By training camp, the team could very well have signed one of those three, or another edge rusher, to add depth to a position group facing a number of questions.

Lions To Release Trey Flowers

The Lions are set to release outside linebacker Trey Flowers, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). The Lions first tried to trade the veteran (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport), but they ultimately weren’t able to find a suitable deal.

With his outright release, Flowers will be a full-fledged unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any team. However, that won’t become official until the first day of the league year (next week), as noted by Birkett. In theory, Flowers could still be traded between now and then, though his contract will probably be a blocker.

Flowers came up with the Patriots, where he missed all but one game in his rookie year. After that, he tallied 21 sacks and 25 tackles for loss across three full seasons. The Lions snagged him in the 2019 offseason, inking the edge rusher to a five-year, $90MM deal. His first year went well with seven sacks and eight total tackles for loss. Unfortunately, injuries have hampered him the last two years — he suited up in just 14 total games between 2020 and 2021.

By releasing the edge rusher, the Lions can save $10.4MM against $12.85MM in dead money. They can also spread out that dead money hit with the post-June 1 designation, which would kick roughly half of it to the 2023 books.

Flowers, 29 in August, had just 1.5 sacks in his partial season. Still, he has youth on his side, ample starting experience, and a career tally of 31.5 sacks.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Flowers, Hunter

The Lions, who own the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, are open to trading that selection. If GM Brad Holmes elects to keep it, however, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press does not expect Holmes to pick Liberty QB Malik Willis. Though Detroit worked closely with Willis at the Senior Bowl, and though the big-armed passer performed well at that event, the consensus still seems to be that he is not worthy of the No. 2 pick.

Theoretically, trading down from the top of the draft board could make it more likely that the Lions select Willis or a different quarterback with their first pick, but Birkett does not believe the club will draft a signal-caller with any of its first three selections (presently No. 2, No. 32, and No. 34 overall). If Detroit stays at No. 2, Birkett expects a pass rusher — either Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson or Oregon’s Kayvon Thibodeaux — to be the choice.

Let’s round up a few more NFC North notes and rumors:

  • Birkett does expect the Lions to be more active in free agency this offseason than they were last year, and he cites wide receiver and safety as the two likeliest positions to be upgraded with a notable signing. Both he and Chris Burke of The Athletic (subscription required) believe edge defender Trey Flowers looms as a potential cap casualty — Flowers’ release would add $10.5MM to the Lions’ books if he is cut prior to June 1, and $16MM if he is designated a post-June 1 cut.
  • Even without removing Flowers from the roster, Holmes has roughly $25MM of cap space to work with. Because of his position (safety) and connection to the Lions‘ coaching staff, Birkett names the Saints’ Marcus Williams as a potential FA target for Holmes.
  • Vikings standout Danielle Hunter will line up both at DE and OLB in new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell‘s scheme, per Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune (via Twitter). Hunter has played in just seven games over the past two years, and between that lack of availability and his lofty 2022 cap charge of $26.1MM, Arif Hasan of The Athletic (subscription required) identifies him as a release candidate. Hasan, though, says such as a move is unlikely, and given how well Hunter performed in 2021 before succumbing to a torn pec — six sacks, six tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits in his seven games — it appears the LSU product will stay in Minnesota and will get a chance to show off his versatility.
  • The Bears have hired Matt Feinstein as their new director of football administration, per a team announcement. As Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports Chicago details, Feinstein worked in the league office for seven years, and he will replace Joey Laine, who served as former GM Ryan Pace‘s director of football administration and who was Pace’s lead contract negotiator and salary cap manager.

Lions Place OLB Trey Flowers On IR

Linebacker Trey Flowers‘ season has come to an end. The Lions’ pass rusher has been unable to stay on the field all year, missing four out of eleven games this season.

Flowers joined the Lions in 2019 after signing a substantial five-year deal worth $90MM. Flowers had racked up 21.0 sacks and 25 tackles for loss in three full seasons with the Patriots after missing all but one game of his rookie season. Flowers showed the production his contract promised in his first year with Detroit tallying 7.0 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. His injury troubles would begin the following year, though, as he only played in 7 games, a total he was only able to match and not surpass this season.

The Lions will now have to consider what the future holds for Flowers in Detroit. Flowers holds a cap hit in the 2022 season of $23.24MM, with about $12.85MM being potential dead money. It’s hard to say the Lions have been able to move on without Flowers this season. Despite Flowers’ limited production only resulting in 1.5 sacks this year, that total is still good for fourth on the team.

Still, the Lions may decide that the risk of losing Flowers to injury may not outweigh the significant cap space he’ll take up. For now, shutting him down allows Flowers a chance to get healthy as the Lions take time to determine his value.

Lions Notes: Okwara, Onwuzurike, Tavai

The Lions have a new regime in place, led by head coach Dan Campbell. Often times, coaching changes put incumbent players on the chopping block, but that’s not necessarily the case for 2019 second-round pick Jahlani Tavai.

I tell you what, I’ve been really impressed with Jahlani,” linebackers coach Mark DeLeone said (via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). “He’s been here (and) he’s been doing a great job. He’s in really good shape right now. I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited for us to get to OTAs and be able to continue with him because I’m really excited about him.”

I can just tell you when he came out when he was out on the field this week, he’s been doing well and I’ve really enjoyed working with him so far. He has a really good understanding of the game. I think he’s gonna be a nice piece for us to work within this scheme.”

The Lions are exploring their options at LB, including newcomer Alex Anzalone, who has history with Campbell. Tavai, meanwhile, has failed to impress in his two pro seasons. After notching two tackles, one forced fumble, and one interception as a rookie, Tavai didn’t make much of an impact last year. He appeared in all 16 games and made ten starts, but earned poor marks from Pro Football Focus across the board, including a dismal 35.7 score for his coverage. Still, the Lions seem to think that this can be a turning point for the young ‘backer.

More from Detroit:

  • The Lions’ new scheme will push Trey Flowers and Romeo Okwara to outside linebacker, as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes.”He’s got a great skill set for what we’re trying to do,” defensive line coach Todd Wash said of Flowers, who inked a $90MM deal to play DE. “Every one of the players that we have on our defensive roster have a skill set. It’s going to be our job obviously as coaches to put them in that position to be successful, and I think Trey has that skill set as a defensive end in base and also in sub.” Flowers won’t be alone — there will be adjustments across the front seven as Detroit commits to a base 3-4 set under Campbell.
  • New second-round pick Levi Onwuzurike will be slotted in as a defensive end that moves inside on clear passing downs, defensive line coach Todd Wash says (Twitter link via Rogers).
  • Before the Lions signed Dan Campbell, they also explored Iowa State coach Matt Campbell as a candidate. But, despite a report to the contrary, it sounds like they never made a formal offer.