Dont'a Hightower,Jared Goff,Trey Flowers

3 Most Likely Destinations for Trey Flowers in Free Agency

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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has created a dynasty in New England. Six Super Bowl wins and nine appearances in 18 seasons. The Patriots' operation seems simple – trade players or opt out of re-signing them one year too early, rather than one year too late. 

But now-free-agent defensive end Trey Flowers was all too important to this year's Super Bowl run. Flowers is just 25 years old and is coming off a season that saw him take another step in his progression as a dominant edge rusher in the NFL. In 2018, the defensive end netted 7.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles.

While the Patriots have said they do have interest in retaining Flowers, the team passed on the approximate $24-million cap hit that would have come with the franchise tagging him. Here are the three most likely destinations for Flowers in free agency.

3. Oakland Raiders

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Stop me if you heard this before – the Oakland Raiders are being linked to a talented defensive player. While this is hyperbole, there is some truth to it. The Raiders seem determined to build a defense that can compliment the old-school, run-heavy offense that head coach Jon Gruden wants to run. Don't be surprised if Oakland throws a hefty, multi-year deal at Flowers to try and lure him away from New England.

2. New England Patriots

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While Flowers' return to New England might seem unlikely, there is precedent. The last two times the Patriots saw a key defensive player's contract come to an end, they let them test the free-agent market – linebacker Dont'a Hightower in 2017 and safety Devin McCourty two years earlier. But the Patriots were able to retain the players in both instances.

Flowers could recognize a good thing when he sees it, as the 25-year old has already won two Super Bowls with the team. It's conceivable he'd return on a short-term deal, for the twilight of Tom Brady's career, to try and win another one before cashing out.

1. New York Jets

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The Jets have been another team that has been linked to a number of high-profile players this offseason. The main reason, New York has the second-most available cap space of any team in the league, and New England's AFC East rival is in desperate need of a pass rusher. The Jets finished 23rd in the league in sack percentage last season at just 6.28 percent and could bring in Flowers as an upgrade playing alongside fellow edge-rushers Jordan Jenkins and Leonard Williams.

Gang Green will likely look to bolster their defense in an attempt to take some pressure off second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. And taking one of the best players away from your biggest rival is a good strategy when rebuilding.

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