One Name Keeps Popping up for Vikings Free Agent Plans

Detroit Lions outside linebacker Trey Flowers (90) warms up before the Los Angeles Rams game at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The ‘trade or extend’ Danielle Hunter discussions have cooled among Minnesota Vikings fans as the pass rusher’s contract has hit a standstill.

Hunter wants a large extension from the Vikings, and it is unclear as of early July if the team’s front office will oblige.

One Name Keeps Popping up for Vikings Free Agent Plans

In the meantime, fans and some media outlets have settled on a free agent Minnesota should pursue with or without Hunter on the 2023 depth chart — outside linebacker Trey Flowers.

Keeps Popping
Oct 4, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers (90) looks on before a game against the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings traded Za’Darius Smith to the Cleveland Browns in May, so the club faces the prospect of improving the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense per yards allowed from 2022 without Smith and possibly Hunter. If one needs an explanation on why Flowers? — that is the evidence.

Flowers last played for the Miami Dolphins, albeit just four games in 2022. Before that, he spent three years with the rival Detroit Lions from 2019 to 2021 and began his career with the New England Patriots (2015-2018). Bill Belichick and Co. scooped Flowers out of the 2015 NFL Draft in the 4th Round.

Oct 31, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions outside linebacker Trey Flowers (90) looks out at the field from the tunnel before the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

In May, after Smith was traded to Cleveland, VikingsWire suggested a Flowers-Vikings relationship in a pictorial article along with 10 other EGDE rushers. Then, followed suit this week. SI‘s Will Ragatz wrote about Flowers as a potential Vikings target, “Depending on what happens with the Danielle Hunter situation, the Vikings could find themselves in desperate need of another starting-caliber edge defender or two. But even if Hunter gets extended and sticks around in Minnesota, signing Flowers could boost the depth for a position group that lost Za’Darius Smith to Cleveland.”

The Arkansas alumnus played just 64 snaps last year for the Dolphins.

Dec 22, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers (90) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports.

“When looking at the last three years, it’s very difficult to count on Flowers staying healthy in 2023. However, the cost of signing him shouldn’t be high and the potential upside he could provide if he does stay healthy makes it worth the risk. Reuniting Flowers with Flores could add some nice depth and talent to the Vikings’ rotation at OLB,” Ragatz added.

Here’s Flowers’ tale of the tape from Pro Football Focus:

  • 2015: 54.0 (4 snaps)
  • 2016: 79.0
  • 2017: 73.3
  • 2018: 90.4
  • 2019: 82.8
  • 2020: 83.3
  • 2021: 63.2
  • 2022: 78.0 (65 snaps)
Lions defensive end Trey Flowers goes around Giants offensive guard Will Hernandez during the second half of the Lions’ 31-26 win on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, at Ford Field. © Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Flowers spent four years in New England alongside Brian Flores, the Vikings current defensive coordinator. Flores was a safeties coach and linebackers coach on Belichick’s staff at the time, and Flowers was playing out his rookie contract.

The 29-year-old has logged 31.5 sacks in 79 career games. His asking price, because of the injury history, should be quite affordable.

The Vikings have about $18 million in cap space. Flowers turns 30 next month.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by