ATLANTA — Trey Flowers is six weeks away from a major payday, but he is keeping that out of his mind right now.
The Patriots defensive lineman will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market if New England lets him get there in March. But Flowers is keeping his focus on Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Rams.
“I’m focusing on the now. I’m focusing on the game. I’ll let free agency handle itself,” Flowers said Wednesday.
Flowers is a potential free-agent target of the Jets, who desperately need a pass rusher. He has 21 sacks over the last three seasons, including a team-high 7.5 this season, plus two more in the playoffs. Many of the pass rushers who could hit free agency are expected to be hit with the franchise tag or sign extensions with their teams — Jadeveon Clowney, DeMarcus Lawrence, Frank Clark and Dee Ford.
That could leave Flowers as the top pass rusher on the market, which will mean major bucks. But Flowers said he has not yet considered the idea of playing for another team.
“I couldn’t say it crossed my mind,” he said. “Obviously, I was fortunate to be drafted here and have my first four years here. Going through the draft process, and not knowing where I’m going to go and then the Patriots called and being on the team as successful as it is, I wouldn’t say I thought about not being a Patriot.”
Flowers has been an integral part of the Patriots’ recent success. A fourth-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, he missed most of his rookie season with a shoulder injury. But he became a key piece in his second season and showed an ability to play all over the defensive line.
“He’s a guy that everyone has a lot of confidence in,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday. “He works very hard to excel at his job, in knowing what to do, reading his keys and the fundamentals he’s exercised in a lot of different positions. He’s played everywhere from the nose to the nine-technique [on the outside]. He’s been a very key player for us, a very good player.”
This season, Flowers has been a beast. Two of the Pats’ losses came when he was injured, showing the impact he has. He had a huge third-down sack of Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Championship Game that knocked the Chiefs out of field-goal range.
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While Flowers is not only mentioned as one of the game’s top pass rushers, he knows what he can do.
“I’m confident in my skills and believe in myself and believe in what I can do,” Flowers said. “As far as what other people think and opinions and where they rank me, that’s not what I do it for. That’s not why I play this game.”
This is his third straight Super Bowl, so Flowers knows what to expect Sunday. He said he won’t put any additional pressure on himself because of free agency.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s added pressure,” he said. “I have confidence in the things I do and how I prepare. It’s just one of those things that don’t make it too big. It’s just a game. Obviously, it’s the Super Bowl, but just because of the year I’m in doesn’t dictate going out there and doing anything out of ordinary. I just have to do my job. I’ve got 52 other guys that are going out there with me. It’s all about the team.”