Day 1 of free agency proves Patriots are toying with the NFL

The New England Patriots did absolutely nothing on the first day of the NFL’s legal free-agent tampering period.

As has been the case under the leadership of Bill Belichick, the team waited in the wings as others vastly overpaid for mediocre talent.

This doesn’t mean the Patriots didn’t have a successful Monday. Just a couple days after acquiring Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett from the Philadelphia Eagles for a swap of late-round picks, New England saw left tackle Trent Brown and pass rusher Trey Flowers depart in free agency.

Both performed well for New England last season. Neither should have been retained at the clip they ultimately received on the open market.

Here’s the break down.

Raiders terribly overpay for Trent Bown: Team made him highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history.

Trey Flowers got paid by the Lions: Full details are not known, but he’s Mr. money bags.

  • ESPN’s Field Yates notes that Flowers got between $16-17 million annually from the Lions. Other reports suggest that it’s a five-year deal.
  • That puts the overall value of Flowers’ deal at between $80 and $85 million. A massive haul for a guy that’s never recorded double-digit sacks in a season.
  • If the market is any indication, Flowers likely got $51-plus million in total guarantees. That’d put him on par with current Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones, who just to happened to be drafted by New England.

The compensatory formula: By letting these two walk, New England picks up maneuverability in the draft.

  • Based on their contracts, Brown and Flowers will each net New England a third-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
  • Remember, the Pats have two additional third-round picks and a fourth-round compensatory selection in 2019 after losing Dion Lewis, Malcolm Butler and Nate Solder in free agency last March.
  • This gives New England flexibility to potentially look at the trade market once again after acquiring Bennett for pennies on the dollar.

Teams such as the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins might have spent big time in free agency on Monday. Call them the Super Bowl champs in March.

But it’s what the Patriots did without actually doing anything that’s the story here. It’s why they will be the team vying for the real title come February.

In the social media world with news at our fingertips, instant gratification is the name of the game. We want to hear about the latest big-time signing. How much money a player received. Debate about whether said contract was an overpay.

Call that checkers.

The Pats are just fine playing chess by themselves.

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