Detroit Lions need to target Trey Flowers in free agency frenzy

Jamie Samuelsen
Special to Detroit Free Press
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Jamie Samuelsen, co-host of the "Jamie and Stoney" show at 6 a.m. weekdays on WXYT-FM (97.1), blogs for His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the Detroit Free Press nor its writers. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @jamiesamuelsen.

If the Detroit Lions could sign one player – who hasn't already been franchise tagged – in free agency, who would you realistically have them sign?

There’s nothing quite like shopping with other people’s money. And there’s nothing better than putting together your wish list without any concern for the other 31 teams vying for the same players.

It’s very easy for me to sit here and say that the Lions should sign this guy or that guy without knowing A) what the Lions think of him B) what he thinks of the Lions or C) what all the other teams pursuing free agents think of the available players.

More:10 players who make sense for Matt Patricia

The Lions needs are obvious. The strength of this draft is obvious. And fortunately, those two things happen to be the same – defensive line. At the No. 8 pick, the Lions should still have a chance to get a very good defensive lineman who should contribute on Day 1. So with that in mind, it makes sense that the Lions would look somewhere else in free agency, right?

Not necessarily.

The day that NFL teams announced their decisions on which players to franchise, two players immediately went to the top of the Lions list, and most lists around the league – safety Landon Collins and defensive end Trey Flowers. Flowers name wasn’t a huge surprise given how expensive a franchise tag would have been.

Jan 30, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers (98) addresses the media at a press conference for Super Bowl LIII at Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Collins was a shock. He's only 25 and is a three-time Pro Bowler. Collins is exactly the type of player for which they made the franchise designation. New York Giants fans are still wondering whether or not GM Dave Gettleman simply made a clerical error.

Both Collins and Flowers fit a need for the Lions. Both would be impact players on a defense that is still looking for more to go along with Darius Slay, Da’Shawn Hand and Damon Harrison.

Logic says Collins is the obvious pick. His cap number figures to be less than Flowers given the position he plays. League experts predict that Collins will come in somewhere around $11 million-$12 million dollars annually. They have Flowers pegged somewhere between $16 million-$18 million. There are many good defensive line prospects in the draft. There aren’t as many good safety prospects. So get Collins now and get someone to replace Ziggy Ansah with the eighth pick and get him on a rookie contract instead of at the massive cap number that Flowers will command.

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

It does. And if that’s the path that the Lions take, I won’t argue with it. But let me give a brief argument on why they need Flowers and why his signing would be more significant.

Head coach Matt Patricia is entering his second year. The Lions improved mightily on defense in his first year and struggled on offense. They posted some impressive wins over New England and Green Bay. They also put together a defensive game plan against the Rams in early December that Pats coach Bill Belichick cited as blueprint for the game plan New England used to hold LA to three points in Super Bowl LIII.

There were rumblings that Patricia worked the players too hard and that the long practices in the summer may have taken their toll on certain players as the year went on. The obvious counter to that is that Patricia knows what a winning program looks like from his time in New England and if the practices were too hard for this group of players than maybe this group needs to be changed.

If Flowers picked Detroit (and Detroit chooses Flowers), I think it would be a huge boost to Patricia and what he’s trying to put in place. It would be a former Patriot who played for Patricia and who knows what it takes to win on a consistent player. And he would be picking Detroit knowing what he was getting into and choosing to get into it. If Patricia is hard on his players in practice and Flowers knows that and still wants to play here, that’s an endorsement for Patricia. It also gives him another one of his guys in the locker room as the Lions try for the umpteenth time to change the culture in Detroit.

I’m not naive. $18 million will be a big reason why Flowers would pick the Lions or any other team. And perhaps he’s one of those guys who just wants to get the big payday and will be content to coast once the ink is dry on that first paycheck. The good thing is that Patricia and Bob Quinn already know that given their time with the Pats. So if they make a big pitch for Flowers, it’s safe to assume that they think he’ll bring maximum effort to Detroit.

Earlier this week, Dave Birkett pointed out a quote from Collins back when Patricia was rumored to be the front runner for the Giants coaching job. Collins was opposed to the “strict” Belichick style that he played in when he played at Alabama for Nick Saban. If Collins didn’t want that “style” in New York, the why would he want it in Detroit. Or more to the point, why would the Lions want it?

New England has a winning culture. Detroit doesn’t. Not yet. The owners and executives and coaches can do all they want. But eventually, it’s the players that have to establish the culture and the accountability. They’re the ones that have to reaffirm the message that the coaching staff is trying to put in place. I don’t know that Patricia could get a bigger affirmation than Flowers choosing to come to play for him in Detroit.


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