The Detroit Lions aren’t messing around when it comes to landing former Patriots players on the first day of free agency and, in addition to signing Danny Amendola and Justin Coleman early in free agency, the Lions have made a massive splash and landed former New England defensive end Trey Flowers, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports. 

It’s a big contract too, as Flowers is going to get around $17 million per year, according to La Canfora. 

It’s interesting to note that the Dolphins were in on Flowers too — basically two former defensive coordinators with New England were desperate to land a former pass rusher in free agency. We’ve now seen multiple teams who employ Bill Belichick proteges go out and spend big on players who used to be in New England. The irony, of course, is that the Patriots don’t overpay for free agents, so people who do that are sort of going against the Patriot Way. That’s another story for another day.

Flowers was clearly the top pass rusher on the market after DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney and Dee Ford all received the franchise tag. He’s young, he’s been productive recently and there will always be teams who need a pass rusher. In fact, Flowers was the top overall free agent on Pete Prisco’s top 30 list once the franchise tag game wrapped up.

This deal, it should be noted, is not a “pay for past performance” type of deal. Flower is young — 25 — and does not have a history of massive production. He has just 21 sacks to his name in his four years with the Patriots. But at his age and the with the way he has produced over the past few years, he’s clearly an ascending player and a guy who Matt Patricia is familiar with in terms of having worked with Flowers early on in his career. GM Bob Quinn was also involved in selecting Flowers in the fourth round out of Arkansas.

And in terms of market value, this deal, which is reportedly worth about $80 million in total, checks in about right. Olivier Vernon, recently traded from the Giants to the Browns, signed an $85 million deal that pays him about $17 million per year. Flowers can ask for that type of deal — he’s not getting some Khalil Mack ($23.5 million per year) or Von Miller ($19.1 million per year) deal in free agency without some more production. 

For the Lions, this gives them a pretty impressive group up front. With the addition of Damon Harrison via trade and Da’Shawn Hand via the draft, Detroit has a nice group of players on their defensive line. It’s been clear Patricia values having talent up front and the Lions continued to add that in free agency by signing Flowers. 

For the Patriots, they likely just added a second third-round compensatory pick in the 2020 draft after seeing both Trent Brown and Flowers leave their building and sign massive deals on the first day of free agency. The rich get richer in that regard. 

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