Recording 89.6 and 92.1 single-game grades in Weeks 16 and 17, respectively, New England Patriots’ Trey Flowers finishes his fourth NFL season with an elite 90.4 overall grade that’s tied for third among qualifying edge defenders. He goes into the postseason with ample momentum and opportunity to ruin opposing offenses en route to a Super Bowl win — and a big payday.
Flowers, a 2015 fourth-round pick out of Arkansas, has turned in 76.2-plus overall grades in each of the three seasons in which he’s played significant snaps, improving every year to en route to his 90.4 overall grade this year. His consistent, high-end play in years prior combined with his stellar 2018 campaign comes at the right time for Flowers, as his contract will expire this offseason if New England decides against paying the big bucks and re-signing him.
NFL edge defenders Khalil Mack and Danielle Hunter are the latest stars at the position to sign long-term, lucrative deals, penning contracts set at $23.5 million and $14.4 million average annual salaries, respectively, per Spotrac. As a result, Flowers’ pending multi-year contract, whether it’s offered by New England or one of the other 31 NFL teams that would welcome his services, will surely fall inside of the floor set by Hunter ($14.4M) and Mack’s high ($23.5M) if not reset the market and exceed the latter.
And Flowers deserves every penny.
Flowers recorded an 18.5 pass-rush win percentage across his 443 pass-rush snaps in 2018, which is tied for third with Denver Broncos’ Miller among edge defenders with 300 pass-rush snaps on the year. He recorded 65 total pressures (44 hurries, 12 hits and nine sacks) in the process, good for the fourth-highest pressure percentage (14.7%) among the same group of edge defenders.
In Flowers’ Week 17 undressing of the New York Jets’ offensive line, four-year veteran Brent Qvale didn’t have a ton of fun. Here, Qvale gets away with a false start and still ends up on his hands and knees soon after the snap as Flowers sacks Sam Darnold.
Flowers’ three-year pass-rush win percentage (15.7%) now ranks tied for 15th among the 54 edge defenders with 800 pass-rush snaps in the last three years, and it’s not even his strongest attribute.
Adding an 88.4 run-defense grade in 2018, which ranked third among qualifiers, Flowers’ three-year run-defense grade (84.7) ranks ninth among the 61 NFL edge defenders with 500-plus run-defense snaps in that span. His three-year run-stop percentage (8.5%) also ranks 10th among the same group of edge defenders.
Here, Flowers controls the tight end’s attempted block and sheds at the opportune moment to tackle the running back near the line of scrimmage. Oh, and he forces a fumble, to boot.
Flowers doesn’t get the praise Mack and Miller have received over the year, but he belongs in the conversation. He’s done enough to warrant such appreciation, and now it’s time he gets paid like them, too.