Phoenix — In his first comments since the beginning of free-agency, Lions general manager Bob Quinn explained the brief courtship of defensive end Trey Flowers, the excitement of landing one of the market's top players and why he's worth the five-year, $90-million contract.
"He's a great player," Quinn said. "He's a three-down player, position versatility, affects the quarterback, affects the run game, knows the technique, knows the scheme.
"There's not a lot of sure bets in free-agency. Certain years, you can be more aggressive than others, and I think with the money we paid those guys (Flowers, tight end Jesse James and cornerback Justin Coleman), the contracts speak to what we think of them. We think they can help us win games, that's the bottom line. We want to get as many players into our team and our scheme that can help us win more, that's my goal."
Quinn explained that free-agency exploration begins all the way back in September, when the regular season is just starting. He insists his pro personnel department study all players, at every position, because needs rapidly change in the NFL.
For example, last year, the interior of Detroit's defensive line was a weakness last offseason. But after hitting on Da'Shawn Hand in the draft, and netting Damon Harrison in a trade, that area is now a strength.
But the Lions' need for a pass rusher, one capable of consistently disrupting the pocket, remained consistent from the start of last year. The team finished with a respectable 43 sacks, but that was disproportionate with how much the defense pressured opposing quarterbacks.
Flowers, 25, should change that. He's averaged more than 60 pressures the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Romeo Okwara led the Lions with 38 in 2018.
Once the Lions reached the offseason, the free-agency period moves rapidly. Teams are permitted to talk to agents of impending free agents for two days before the frenzied signing period opened on March 13.
The Lions and Flowers' representation had agreed to a deal just hours into the negotiating period.
"You talk to the agent, see if there's mutual interest and that's kinda how it works," Quinn said. "It's a nerve-wracking time, obviously, because you think deals happen, deals get backed out of, and we feel fortunate with the guys that we signed that they really wanted to be here. The agents made that clear, and when we finally get the players in the building that night or the next morning, it was very evident that those guys were excited to be here and really believe in what we're talking about and want to be part of it."
And once the agreement is made?
The celebration is short-lived.
"It's exciting, of course it is," Quinn said. "We're excited about all the players. Just like in the draft, you're excited about all the guys you draft. It's a little bit of a high five, it's a pat on the back, it's 'alright, what's the next thing to do.' Free-agency, it's always like, 'what's the next shoe to drop?' And you want to make sure you're not missing out on other opportunities, so you celebrate for a quick minute and then you're on to the next thing."