The Bengals have shipped linebacker Marquis Flowers to New England for a seventh-round pick, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
A fourth-year linebacker out of Arizona, Flowers is entering the final year of his rookie contract. After being selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Flowers appeared in every game as a rookie, including one start in an upset win over the Denver Broncos. That was his only start in Cincinnati though as he was used mostly on special teams during his three years with the Bengals.
In 2015, Flowers injured his shoulder during the Bengals' preseason finale, which led to him being on Injured Reserve for all of that year. He fully recovered and earned a spot on the 53-man roster in 2016, though he rarely saw game action on defense, despite appearing in all 16 games and making seven tackles while recording no other defensive statistic.
Flowers went to Arizona intending to be a defensive back and played exclusively at safety as a backup in 2011. He was then moved to linebacker in 2012. From there, he slowly developed into a star for the Wildcats' defense.
The timing on this trade seems somewhat strange as the Bengals are now thin at linebacker following news that Vontaze Burfict is facing a five-game suspension to start the 2017 NFL season. But, Flowers must not have been impressing the Bengals’ coaches who knew he was not going to make the cut.
This is a good move by the Bengals to get something out of nothing with roster cuts coming this week and the Bengals seemingly planning to cut him.
With Flowers now gone from Cincinnati, the Bengals linebacker group includes:
- Bryson Albright
- Brandon Bell
- Vontaze Burfict
- P.J. Dawson
- Jordan Evans
- Carl Lawson
- Kevin Minter
- Hardy Nickerson, Jr.
- Vincent Rey
- Nick Vigil
Burfict, Vigil, Minter, Evans, Lawson and Rey are roster locks and if Burfict is to serve his five-game suspension, the Bengals will need to choose one other player from the group to take his place on the roster during that time, assuming the Bengals keep six linebackers on the 53-man roster.
The most likely options are the 2015 third round pick, Dawson and the impressive undrafted player whose father Marvin Lewis coached, Nickerson.
The final preseason game will likely feature a battle for the player who takes Burfict’s spot during his suspension (assuming he does not see an appeal ruling that takes the suspension from five games to no games).
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