NFL

The Detroit Lions Just Lost Their $90 Million Star

With a chance to move to 4-3 and keep the pressure on the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North crown, the Detroit Lions lost by 20 points on Sunday. However, Matt Patricia’s team lost more than just a football game.

Moving forward, Detroit will have to find a way to stop opposing quarterbacks without star defensive end Trey Flowers. Luckily for the Lions, they have a capable replacement who should make his debut with Detroit this Sunday.

Trey Flowers parlayed his Patriots career into a huge payday

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The New England Patriots have struggled to find stars via the NFL draft in recent years. However, Bill Belichick hit a home run by selecting Trey Flowers in the fourth round in 2015.

After missing essentially his entire rookie year with an injury, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive end flashed dominant potential in his second NFL season. Flowers recorded seven sacks and 14 quarterbacks hits while playing just 54% of the team’s defensive snaps. He totaled 2.5 sacks and seven QBH in the postseason, including a game-changing takedown of Matt Ryan in Super Bowl 51.

Flowers followed up with two more rock-solid seasons with the Patriots. After totaling 21 regular-season sacks and 5.5 more in nine postseason games, he entered free agency as one of the best players available.

The Alabama native reunited with former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, as the Lions signed Flowers to a five-year, $90 million deal. He delivered seven sacks and 21 QBH in the first year of his massive contract. However, the Lions went 3-12-1 due in large part to their 26th-ranked scoring defense.

The Lions just lost their $90 million star

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Though Trey Flowers has never registered double-digit sacks in a single season, he still brings plenty of value because of his versatility, toughness, and ability to play the run. That makes his recent setback even more painful for a Lions defense that can’t afford to lose a player of his caliber.

On Monday, Ian Rapoport reported via Twitter that the Lions will place Flowers on injured reserve.

Head coach Matt Patricia did not disclose the nature of the injury during his video conference with the media on Monday. However, he did say he expects Flowers to return to action at some point later in the season.

Still, with their $90 million star sidelined for at least three weeks, the Lions will have a tough time stopping anyone on defense. Luckily for Patricia and his team, a former nemesis could be their savior.

Can Everson Griffen actually be an upgrade over Flowers?

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Ironically, Detroit traded for a star defensive end shortly before losing Trey Flowers. Now, a four-time Pro Bowler who harassed Lions quarterbacks for a decade will get a chance to inflict damage against his former team.

Everson Griffen should make his Lions debut on Sunday. The longtime Minnesota Vikings defensive end signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys this summer. However, the 32-year-old got traded to Detroit last week.

Despite his age, Griffen still possesses the ability to get after the quarterback. In 2019, he earned his fourth Pro Bowl berth after racking up eight sacks and 24 QBH. He totaled 2.5 sacks and six QBH on 281 defensive snaps with the Cowboys before getting traded.

Meanwhile, Flowers has provided little pass-rush spark this season. The 27-year-old recorded just one sack in his last five games. He has recorded only three QBH through seven games after averaging 22 from 2017-2019.

Griffen may actually be an upgrade on Flowers from a pass-rush perspective. The ex-Viking certainly has intimate knowledge of the NFC North and its collection of offensive tackles. And considering the Lions still have four divisional games remaining, that could be a big advantage moving forward.

Let’s see if the Lions’ new pass rusher can fill in capably for their $90 million star. If not, expect more dismal days ahead for Detroit’s defense.

All contract data courtesy of Spotrac. All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.