The New York Jets have a chance to similarly repeat the Curtis Martin move through Patriots EDGE Trey Flowers.
They say history repeats itself, and the New York Jets are sure hoping that comes to fruition during free agency time in March.
The Jets are projected to have just under $100 million in cap space and they have dangerous intentions to increase the talent pool on the roster. One way they can do that is by stealing away Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers.
Now, I understand some teams are wary of stealing players or coaches away from New England because they usually never live up to expectations outside of Foxboro. But that isn’t always the case, and no one knows that better than the Jets.
After the 1997 season, Patriots star running back Curtis Martin was a restricted free agent. Martin’s representation (Eugene Parker) reached out to the green and white and gauged their interest on a deal. After some careful negotiating the Jets and Martin agreed to a six-year $36 million “poison pill” contract.
“The “poison pill” was a clause in the contract that stated Martin would become an unrestricted free agent after one-year if the Patriots matched the offer and it would have forced New England to pay a $3.3 million roster bonus that would have compromised their salary cap.
Or in other words, the Jets pushed the Patriots up against the wall and structured the deal in a way that would screw New England if they signed him and screw them if they didn’t. The Patriots chose the latter and the rest is history.
In Martin’s first seven seasons with the Jets, he missed only one game and eventually rode his green and white career all the way to Canton, Ohio where he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Now I’m not sure if Flowers is on that kind of career trajectory, but he’s still a dominant player. Of course, Flowers is also entering unrestricted free agency—far easier to gobble up as opposed to Martin’s restricted nature over two decades ago.
Usually, free agents are leftovers. We chop them up to be greater than they really are. Consider this: If the free agents were as good as we hype them up to be, why didn’t their own teams re-sign them?
Flowers is an exception. He’s only 25 years old (will be 26 by the start of the 2019 season) and he’s been uber dynamic on the field. He’s racked up 21 sacks in three seasons of play.
These are the types of players you want to spend your hard earned money on if you’re the Jets. Not over-the-hill veterans searching for that last payday. Remember, in free agency you want to pay a player for what he can do for you, not what he’s done in the past for someone else.
Addressing the elephant in the room, the Jets haven’t had a pass rusher that opponents fear since John Abraham. Pop quiz: when was the last time Abraham suited up for the Jets? 2005.
Therefore, the Jets need a game-changing pass rusher and Flowers is worth investing in (while simultaneously making the Patriots, a division rival, worse).
According to the ESPN NFL Dominoes prediction piece, the Jets would sign Flowers to a five-year $85 million contract. The Patriots have the eighth least cap space in the entire league (just around $16 million), per Over The Cap.
That’s a good combination for history to once again repeat itself in this famed Jets vs. Patriots rivalry.