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Trey Flowers gives Lions highly needed pass rusher

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The Detroit Lions have scored one of the market's top players at one of the team's biggest needs. 

According to multiple reports, Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers will sign with the Lions later this week. It is believed to be a five-year deal, averaging between $16-17 million per season. 

Flowers all but confirmed the agreement on social media, responding to multiple Lions players welcoming him to Detroit. 

A fourth-round draft pick out of Arkansas in 2015, Flowers, 25, has spent his entire four-year career with the Patriots. He played the first three under current Lions coach Matt Patricia, who previously served as New England's defensive coordinator. 

"He comes in, will sit down and just want to talk to you about your family, see how you’re doing, see how everyone else in your family is doing," Flowers said about Patricia at the Super Bowl in 2018. "He builds those personal relationships. He’s a good man. It just makes you want to do the best you can for him."

Despite modest sack numbers, peaking at 7.5 last season, Flowers manages to generate consistent pocket pressure, something the Lions struggled to do last season. While the team actually finished with 43 sacks, tied for 11th, the defense generated pressure on just 26.3 percent of passing downs, according to Football Outsiders, good for 29th in the league. 

Free-agent defensive end Trey Flowers reportedly will sign with the Lions.

According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers disrupted the pocket 64 times in 2018 and 59 times the year before. Romeo Okwara, who signed a two-year extension this offseason, lead the Lions with 39 pressures. 

Against the run, Flowers also is considered exceptional. He made a stop on 10.5 percent of all run plays, which ranked seventh among edge defenders, according to Pro Football Focus. That should only bolster a Lions run defense that flourished following the midseason acquisition of defensive tackle Damon Harrison

In the nine games after trading for Harrison, the Lions allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL. Opponents averaged 3.8 yards per carry, the second-worst in the league. 

One of the more versatile linemen in football, Flowers lined up all over the Patriots defensive line, including more than 200 snaps at defensive tackle. Reunited with Patricia in Detroit, Flowers likely will to do the same in Detroit. 

Former coach, Bill Belichick, raved about Flowers overall approach last year. 

"He does an outstanding job with his teammates at that position," Belichick said. "He hasn’t had a lot of practice time this year. but when he does, and the opportunities he has in meetings and things like that, he’s a great example for (his younger teammates). If they just watch what he does and do what he does, you couldn’t do much better than that."

Flowers is also a relatively durable player. He missed the majority of his rookie season with a shoulder injury, but has been sidelined just three games the past three seasons. He reportedly had a clean-up procedure done on his shoulder this offseason. He played more than 70 percent of the Patriots defensive snaps last season. 

Flowers essentially will be replacing Ziggy Ansah on the roster. The 2013 first-round pick, who is recovering from a shoulder surgery of his own, will be playing somewhere else next season. 

When healthy, Ansah was a pass-rushing force, but durability was a significant issue the three years after he threatened the franchise sack record during a Pro Bowl season in 2015. The following year, he recorded two sacks in 13 games while battling a high-ankle sprain.

A late-season surge that saw Ansah record six sacks the final two weeks of the season covered up his inconsistent and injury-affected performance in 2017. And Ansah missed more of last year with a pair of shoulder injuries, resulting in four sacks in seven games. 

Flowers is the crown jewel of Detroit's aggressive first day of free agency negotiations. The team opened the day by signing wide receiver Danny Amendola, who had been released by the Dolphins last week, and also agreed to terms with nickel cornerback Justin Coleman and tight end Jesse James. 


Twitter: @Justin_Rogers