As his 2021 campaign continues to be impacted by a knee injury, the Detroit Lions now have a real decision to make on Trey Flowers come the offseason.
As Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn attempted to make the Detroit Lions in the image of the New England Patriots from which they came, Trey Flowers was a centerpiece free agent signing in 2019 (five years, $90 million; $56 million guaranteed).
Flowers had a productive first season in Detroit with seven sacks, 21 quarterback hits, eight tackles for loss and 35 pressures. But then he missed the final nine games in 2020 due to a forearm injury, and now he’s set to miss at least three more games this season after being placed on IR due to a nagging knee injury.
Flowers was the subject of trade rumors heading into this year’s deadline, but nothing ultimately happened. Trade rumors may surface again in the offseason, and the premium on edge rushers could fetch a Lions a decent extra draft pick. His recent run of bad health complicates the equation.
What should the Lions do with Trey Flowers in the offseason?
Whether Flowers plays again this season or not, or if he had been healthy this entire season, a decision on his future with the team was/is inevitable come the offseason. He will turn 29 before next season starts, and stands as one of the older players on this year’s roster.
Flowers of course has two years left on his contract after this one, with current cap numbers of $23.239 and $23.614 million respectively (according to Over The Cap). Cutting him before June 1, 2022 would clear just shy of $10.4 million in cap space, with $12.85 million in dead money. Designating him a post-June 1 cut would clear $16 million in cap room, and leave behind $7.239 million in dead money.
A trade, before or after June 1, shifts the numbers–almost evenly in dead money/cleared cap room before June 1 on that $23.2 millon cap hit, and with only $5.6 million in dead money if he were officially traded after June 1.
Lions general manager Brad Holmes was charged with cleaning up plenty of the previous regime’s sins. Flowers’ contract can’t be offloaded as easily as would be ideal. But if a trade market for him doesn’t come to light in the offseason, he may have to have his contract restructured (take a pay cut) to stay in Detroit next season. It’s very likely Flowers’ time as a Lion is nearing the end, one way or another.