Among them is Marquis Flowers, who enjoyed a career year in New England after being traded from Cincinnati prior to final cuts this past August. Despite flashes of being a solid linebacker during his three-year stint with the Bengals, Flowers never managed to earn a significant role with the team, and he rarely ever saw the field outside of special teams.
Entering 2017, Flowers had appeared in 32 games but recorded just 15 tackles and one pass deflection. The Bengals also appeared set at this position with Vontaze Burfict, Nick Vigil, Kevin Minter and Vincent Rey entering the season, not to mention a promising sixth-round rookie in Jordan Evans.
The Bengals also had Carl Lawson listed as a linebacker, though he would spend most of his rookie season as a defensive end on obvious passing downs. All of this made it an easy call to trade Flowers for whatever they could get for him.
As it turned out, the Patriots gave up a seventh-round pick for Flowers, which seemed like a nice win for the Bengals. However, Flowers has not only been a success in New England, but he’s also outperformed many of the Bengals’ linebackers.
Flowers would appear in all 16 games (2 starts) and record 32 tackles, 3.5 sacks, one pass deflection and a forced fumble. He also finished as Pro Football Focus’ 53rd-best linebacker out of 100 eligible players.
In fact, Flowers finished higher than Rey (63), Vigil (84) and Evans (85). Minter didn’t receive enough snaps to qualify, but his 40.8 grade would have ranked him around 70th.
Then there’s the fact that Burfict missed six games due to injury and suspension. Vigil also missed five games, while Minter missed seven.
Obviously the Bengals can’t project injuries, but there’s no question that they should have kept Flowers in hindsight. He probably would have been better than Vigil, who was an absolute disaster. Evans was also a major liability in limited snaps.
Sure, the Patriots are pros at utilizing the strengths and hiding the weaknesses of their players, so perhaps Flowers would have just been another disappointing linebacker if he remained with the Bengals.