Trey Flowers

Extra Points: Patriots, Jaguars, Packers, Browns

In 2017, Browns defensive coordinator and now interim head coach Gregg Williams made a strong push for the team to take Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett with the No. 1 overall pick rather than take a quarterback.

On Friday, he reiterated that stance, saying he would still take the standout defensive end over quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Mitch Trubisky, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.

“Yes, I would,’’ said Williams. “I really like (Garrett). They had me evaluate the quarterbacks, too, and they had me evaluate a lot of the top players on the other side of the ball. You do good things like that in successful organizations. Get the opinion of a defensive guy on an offensive guy. Get the opinion of an offensive guy on a defensive guy. You are trying to find all of the little itty bitty things before you make the final decision, I think those are important.”

Regardless of what he would or wouldn’t do, it looks like the situation is going to work out well for the Browns. Instead of taking a quarterback a year ago, the team tabbed Baker Mayfield with the top spot and have recorded the same amount of wins this season as the previous three combined (four).

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Though the Packers need to win out and get plenty of help to get to the playoffs, team CEO Mark Murphy wrote in a week Q&A on Packers.com that he is not ready to give up on the season. “Now, I realize that we are 4-6-1 (and as Bill Parcells famously said, “You are what your record says you are”) and that we haven’t played well. However, we still have almost a third of the season left to play. I know that the odds of making the playoffs are slim (I’ve seen odds range from 3 to 15 percent), but we still have a lot to play for.” Like the odds say, there isn’t much left on the line unless the team can get hot and get some help.
  • Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone‘s firing of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett at this point of the season seems like a diversionary tactic to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “It feels like an effort by Marrone to alter the conversation that inevitably will happen when owner Shad Khan, who had a taste of life in the NFL’s penthouse in 2017 and has taken the Super Fun Happy Slide straight back to the outhouse, starts asking tough questions after Week 17.” 
  • The Patriots need to re-sign defensive end Trey Flowers, NESN’s Doug Kyed writes in a mailbag. “They either need to bring back Flowers, take a player high in the 2018 NFL Draft, sign a free agent (pass rushers are not cheap) or trade for a veteran edge defender. Isn’t the simplest option just to bring back Flowers?” 

Free Agent Stock Watch: Trey Flowers

Sack artists tend be among the highest earners in free agency, but in 2019 we’ll find out whether the same applies to a defensive end who has generated a ton of pressure against opposing QBs without a ton of sack dances. We’re talking about Patriots standout Trey Flowers, who will look to cash in among a star-studded class of edge rushers. 

This spring, teams will be champing at the bit for free agents like Frank Clark (10 sacks), Dee Ford (9 sacks), DeMarcus Lawrence (9.5 sacks), Jadeveon Clowney (7 sacks). Flowers, meanwhile, has just 3.5 sacks through ten games this season, meaning that he’s on pace for less takedowns than his seven sacks in 2016 and his 6.5 sacks last year.

Of course, sacks don’t tell the whole story when it comes to evaluating edge rushers. Flowers has been terrorizing opposing QBs all season long and Jets signal caller Josh McCown can attest to that after he was hit four times by the Arkansas product last week. Heading into the meat of Week 13, Flowers ranks as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked edge defender, behind only Texans superstar J.J. Watt. That’s not too shabby for a player who won’t turn 26 until August.

Watt, by the way, is under contract through 2021 thanks to the six-year, $100MM contract extension he inked in 2014. Given the widespread need for high-level pass rushers, the increase of the salary cap, and the advancement of the market for DEs, it’s possible that Flowers can flirt with or best Watt’s $16.67MM average annual value.

The Patriots typically don’t shell out big bucks for defensive linemen, but they may want to make an exception here. The Patriots’ group of defensive ends beyond Flowers is far from star-studded and they should have the cap room to make his salary fit. A long-term extension with Flowers would cost no less than $13MM annually, so if they’re unwilling to commit, they can franchise tag Flowers for about $17.1MM.

If Flowers hits the open market, what kind of contract will he command? Which teams do you think will be in the mix for him? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Patriots, Eagles, Redskins, Fins

While the Patriots haven’t historically paid up for free agent defensive lineman, Trey Flowers could be a special case, as Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets. For one, Flowers is highly respected within the New England locker room — Howe deems Flowers a “model human being” with zero off-field issues. Second, Flowers and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick share the same agent (Neil Conrich), which could theoretically help push negotiations along. Flowers, 25, is part of stacked 2019 free agent edge rusher class that also includes Jadeveon Clowney, Dee Ford, Frank Clark, and DeMarcus Lawrence. While he’s posted only 3.5 sacks, Flowers ranks sixth in the NFL with 31 quarterback pressures.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

Extra Points: Davis, Vea, Pats, Lamp, Colts

Prior to Vontae Davis‘ now-infamous halftime retirement, the 10-year NFL veteran cornerback told Bills defensive backs coach John Butler, “I’m done” while he was in uniform late in the first half. This one-sided conversation, per Davis (via The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth), occurred in the final minute of the half. Lafayette Pitts replaced Davis in the game and ended up having to play a larger role after halftime once Davis did not return for the second half.

I didn’t expect them to understand,” Davis said, via Foxworth, of his teammates’ reaction to his abrupt NFL exit. “That moment was shocking to me as well. … My intention was not to hurt my teammates. In that moment, my intuition was telling me I don’t belong on that field anymore.”

The Bills received a roster exemption after the 30-year-old defender’s retirement, and they placed Davis on the reserve/left squad list, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. While Davis sounds about as far away from a player who’d attempt a comeback, his placement on this list would not allow it — with the Bills or another team — this season.

Shifting back to some active NFLers, here’s what’s new going into Week 3:

  • Jack Conklin‘s 2018 debut is unlikely to take place Sunday, Titans insider Paul Kuharsky tweets. In the final part of his recovery process from a torn ACL sustained in January, Conklin appears likelier to suit up in Week 4 against the Eagles than Sunday against the Jaguars. The Titans didn’t have Conklin nor Taylor Lewan in Week 2, but Tennessee’s left tackle has been cleared to return from a concussion he sustained in the season opener. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly, however, remains out. An illness forced Kelly to be hospitalized before last weekend’s game.
  • Another AFC South tackle won’t play Sunday, but Anthony Castonzo‘s second hamstring setback in as many months has not caused the Colts to consider placing him on IR. Indianapolis’ left tackle remains week-to-week in his recovery, Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer, on Twitter). Were Castonzo to land on IR, he would not be able to return for eight weeks.
  • Three Patriots deemed unlikely to play will, in fact, sit out New England’s Week 3 game in Detroit. The Patriots announced Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe are out against the Lions. The team did not declare Marcus Cannon or Josh Gordon out. Cannon returned to practice this week and made progress, pointing to the right tackle’s return.
  • Vita Vea‘s calf strain will delay his debut for another week. The Buccaneers‘ first-round pick is out for Monday night’s Steelers game, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Vea did practice on Saturday, doing so for the first time in a month, so the defensive tackle’s NFL debut appears imminent.
  • The Chargers continue to bring Forrest Lamp along slowly. The 2017 second-round pick has not yet debuted, and Anthony Lynn said (via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times) Lamp isn’t ready for action yet. “It’s just that Forrest was an athletic guard,” Lynn said. “He moved a lot and we pulled him in space. He doesn’t feel that speed yet. He feels like he’s a step behind.” Lamp tore an ACL a few days into his rookie training camp and underwent an arthroscopic procedure in May. The Bolts are already down Joe Barksdale for another week. They’ve been playing guard-tackle Michael Schofield in Lamp’s spot, and Sam Tevi started in Barksdale’s right tackle position last week in Buffalo.

AFC East Rumors: Patriots, McMillan, Bills

A calf injury forced Marcus Cannon to miss the Patriots‘ preseason slate and resurfaced in New England’s Week 1 win over Houston. But the Pats’ right tackle starter looks on track to return on Sunday night. Cannon made progress this week, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (subscription required), and the Patriots announced he did make the trip to Detroit on Saturday. LaAdrian Waddle started for Cannon against the Jaguars. Cannon was signed to an extension to be the Patriots’ long-term right tackle, but he played in only seven games last season. It looks like he’ll have a chance to establish some consistency beginning in Week 3.

Here’s more out of New England and other AFC East locales:

  • Although Brandon Beane serves as the Bills‘ GM, it’s Sean McDermott who establishes the franchise’s tone “from top to bottom,” Tim Graham of The Athletic writes in an expansive piece about how the Bills’ rebuild is going thus far. The offseason mistakes Beane made in adding Vontae Davis, Jeremy Kerley, Corey Coleman and Russell Bodine may increase McDermott’s voice within the organization, Graham adds.
  • It will be a stretch for Trey Flowers to play this week. Howe notes Bill Belichick hasn’t deployed a player who’s missed an entire week of practice in at least 10 years. The Patriots’ top pass rusher was sidelined all week because of a concussion. Patrick Chung is in the same boat. Of course, the concussion protocol being in place means it’s not up to Belichick whether or not Chung and Flowers can suit up Sunday. Both are listed as doubtful to face the Lions. A Flowers absence could free up a spot for 2017 third-rounder Derek Rivers, who has yet to play in a regular-season game.
  • The Dolphins‘ intentions for Raekwon McMillan — set to be their starting middle linebacker in 2017 prior to a season-nullifying injury — was not to play him in their nickel package, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. However, McMillan is now being used as a three-down player this year. Pro Football Focus has graded McMillan as one of its worst coverage ‘backers through two games, and Salguero adds Jerome Baker was brought in this year via third-round pick to help in coverage. While McMillan remains a part of Miami’s nickel set, Baker is pushing for a role there, per Salguero, as passing-down backs like James White, Giovani Bernard and Tarik Cohen loom on the Fins’ first-half schedule.
  • On the subject of nickel work, the Patriots‘ bringing back Cyrus Jones for a possible nickel role, Howe adds. Although the former Pats second-round pick was re-signed to serve as the punt returner, he worked as a safety and was given a chance to play in the slot during practice this week. Third-year Patriot Jonathan Jones currently serves as New England’s slot man. He’s graded well through two games, per PFF, which slots him as the NFL’s No. 21 corner thus far. Jonathan Jones, though, was in coverage during Dede Westbrook‘s back-breaking touchdown last week.

2018 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Jay Ajayi (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.908MM in 2018. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2018 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Trent Brown, T; Eli Harold, LB

Bears: Adrian Amos, S

Bengals: Tyler Kroft, TE; Josh Shaw, DB

Bills: John Miller, G

Broncos: Max Garcia, G; Trevor Siemian, QB

Browns: Duke Johnson, RB

Buccaneers: Kwon Alexander, LB

Cardinals: David Johnson, RB; J.J. Nelson, WR

Chargers: Kyle Emanuel, LB

Chiefs: Chris Conley, WR; Steven Nelson, CB

Colts: Henry Anderson, DE; Mark Glowinski, G; Denzelle Good, OL

Dolphins: Bobby McCain, CB

Eagles: Jay Ajayi, RB; Jordan Hicks, LB

Falcons: Grady Jarrett, DT

Jaguars: A.J. Cann, OL

Lions: Quandre Diggs, CB

Packers: Jake Ryan, LB

Panthers: Daryl Williams, T

Patriots: Trey Flowers, DE; Shaq Mason, G

Raiders: Clive Walford, TE

Rams: Jamon Brown, G

Ravens: Za’Darius Smith, LB

Redskins: T.J. Clemmings, OL; Jamison Crowder, WR

Saints: Tyeler Davison, DT

Seahawks: Tyler Lockett, WR

Steelers: Jesse James, TE

Vikings: Stefon Diggs, WR; Danielle Hunter, DE

OverTheCap.com was essential in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Pats Sign Seven Draftees, Seven UDFAs

The Patriots announced the signings of a number of rookies today, announcing in a press release that they’ve signed eight of their 11 draft picks, and another seven undrafted free agents. Two of those draft picks – fourth-rounder Tre’ Jackson and seventh-rounder Xzavier Dickson – had their deals previously reported, but six of the names are new, and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets that a ninth draftee has signed his contract as well.

The following picks have signed their contracts, per the team and Wilson:

  • Jordan Richards, DB (second round)
  • Geneo Grissom, DE (third round)
  • Trey Flowers, DE (fourth round)
  • Shaq Mason, OL (fourth round)
  • Matthew Wells, OLB (sixth round)
  • A.J. Derby, TE (sixth round)
  • Darryl Roberts, CB (seventh round)

Of New England’s 11 draft picks, only first-rounder Malcom Brown and fifth-round long snapper Joe Cardona remain unsigned. In addition to locking up most of their draft class, the Pats have formally inked seven undrafted free agents to deals. Here are those players:

  • David Andrews, C, Georgia
  • Devin Gardner, WR, Michigan ($5K bonus, plus $10K guaranteed salary, per Dave Birkett)
  • Chris Harper, WR, California ($15K bonus, plus $5K guaranteed salary, per Aaron Wilson)
  • Jimmy Jean, DB, Alabama-Birmingham
  • Brandon King, DB, Auburn
  • Eric Patterson, DB, Ball State
  • Vince Taylor, DL, Vanderbilt ($2.5K bonus, per Jeff Howe)