NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday that Flowers' contract is worth $90 million, including $56 million guaranteed.
Flowers enjoyed another productive season in 2018, posting 57 combined tackles, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He earned second-team status when Pro Football Focus unveiled its All-Pros at the end of the year.
Everybody knew the Patriots would prefer to retain Flowers this offseason, but doing so was easier said than done, especially when the team declined to use the franchise tag on him.
PFF's Austin Gayle wrote Flowers was due a significant pay raise on his $1.9 million salary from this past season:
"NFL edge defenders Khalil Mack and Danielle Hunter are the latest stars at the position to sign long-term, lucrative deals, penning contracts set at $23.5 million and $14.4 million average annual salaries, respectively, per Spotrac. As a result, Flowers' pending multi-year contract, whether it's offered by New England or one of the other 31 NFL teams that would welcome his services, will surely fall inside of the floor set by Hunter ($14.4M) and Mack's high ($23.5M) if not reset the market and exceed the latter."
The Patriots have been down this road plenty of times before, and more often than not, they've been content to let their best players leave rather than committing to long-term extensions or even one-year franchise tenders.
Stephen Gostkowski in 2015 is the last Patriots player to receive the franchise tag.
Last offseason, New England saw Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler both leave when the franchise tender was an option for either player. Prior to that, the Pats traded Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins in 2016 as they were approaching the end of their rookie contracts.
Nobody would accuse head coach Bill Belichick of being cheap. New England's problem is it simply doesn't have enough money to consistently fill out its roster while retaining its marquee free agents.
New England's loss is Detroit's gain. The lucrative reported deal means Ezekiel Ansah's time in Detroit has surely passed, with the 25-year-old Flowers offering the team a younger, and more talented, alternative.
As for New England, they'll still have options in free agency to replace him, while this year's draft is stacked with talented edge-rushers and defensive lineman. Nonetheless, the loss of Flowers will hurt the defending champs.