The New England Patriots have lost two key members of their 2018 championship team to free agency, according to reports from ESPN.

Defensive end Trey Flowers has agreed to a five-year deal worth $16-17 million with the Detroit Lions, reuniting with Coach Matt Patricia, New England’s former defensive coordinator.

Flowers, 25, a fourth-round pick by New England in the 2015 draft, led the Patriots in sacks (7.5), quarterback hits (21) and forced fumbles (three) last season.

He missed one game with an injury last year, against, coincidentally, Detroit.

Earlier on Monday, ESPN reported that offensive tackle Trent Brown is leaving the Patriots for the Oakland Raiders, where he will become the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL.

The Patriots acquired Brown in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers last April. Brown, who turns 26 in April, started every game at left tackle for the Patriots last season.

His four-year deal with Oakland is for $66 million, with $36.75 million guaranteed, ESPN reported.

Brown’s departure marks the second consecutive year that the Patriots have lost their starting left tackle to free agency. Last year, Nate Soldier signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the New York Giants.

Adding Flowers fills a big need for the Lions, who were in need of a rush end to potentially replace Ziggy Ansah.

Brown’s contract will be one of the richest ever for an offensive lineman.

Brown, 25, entered the league as a seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2015. He is likely to be replaced by 2018 Patriots first-round pick Isaiah Wynn.

Wynn took preseason reps at left tackle before tearing his Achilles in mid-August and played left tackle in college at Georgia.

The remaining tackles on New England’s roster are Wynn, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Dan Skipper and Ryker Mathews. Croston and Skipper are members of the team’s practice-squad, and Mathews, a former starter in the Canadian Football League, was signed to a futures contract in January. He won’t officially join the team until Wednesday, when the new league year begins.

Patriots backup tackle LaAdrian Waddle is a free agent.

The Raiders have gotten a big head start on rebuilding a team that won just four games in Coach Jon Gruden’s first season back on the sideline. Oakland previously agreed to send third- and fifth-round draft picks to Pittsburgh for star receiver Antonio Brown and to give him a three-year, $50.125 million deal, a person familiar with the deal said on condition of anonymity because the trade can’t be finalized until Wednesday.

By adding one of the top pass-blocking tackles and the game’s most prolific receiver, the Raiders are giving quarterback Derek Carr the help he lacked last season when he struggled in his first year in Gruden’s offense.

The move to sign Brown comes less than a year after Oakland spent two high draft picks on tackles who struggled as rookies. The Raiders allowed 52 sacks, tied for fifth-most in the league, as left tackle Kolton Miller and right tackle Brandon Parker were overpowered at times against NFL competition.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Raiders tackles allowed 30 sacks in pass protection last season for the most in the NFL, while Brown gave up just three in 580 pass blocking snaps.

Brown has experience playing on both the left and right side but with the money he is getting from Oakland it appears more likely he would line up on the left to protect Carr’s blind side. Miller played both right and left tackle at UCLA and could move back to the right side with Parker offering insurance behind both.

The Raiders also have agreed to trade former starting left guard Kelechi Osemele to the New York Jets when the league year starts, a person familiar with the trade said on condition of anonymity.

The mammoth Brown, who stands at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, went from a seventh-round draft pick by San Francisco in 2015 to a record-setting contract this offseason after starring in the playoffs for New England last season.

Brown was at his best in the playoffs, including shutting down the edge rushers for the Chargers and Chiefs.


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