Michael Bennett's arrival shouldn't close door on Trey Flowers

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Defensive end Michael Bennett is in, so does that mean Trey Flowers is out?

This was one of the first, and most obvious, questions that resulted from the New England Patriots' agreement with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday to acquire Bennett and a seventh-round pick in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

Bennett's arrival shouldn't automatically close the door on Flowers' return -- it's more likely to affect Adrian Clayborn's return for a second season -- as it's a trade the Patriots would have made regardless of Flowers' free-agent status.

The trade compensation is light.

And the final two years of Bennett's contract that the Patriots inherit -- which has a base value of $13.7 million, with Bennett also having a chance to earn an additional $2 million in per-game roster bonuses, and another $1 million in incentives for sacks -- is not prohibitive.

So add it all up, and it has the potential of a good value move for the Patriots, assuming the outspoken Bennett buys in to the Patriots' culture like his brother Martellus did in 2016, and continues to be a disruptive presence on the field.

Still, the addition of the 33-year-old Bennett doesn't mean the Patriots no longer need the 26-year-old Flowers. They are different players, at different stages of their careers.

The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Flowers has proven to be a versatile chess piece along the line of scrimmage in the Patriots' multiple scheme, aligning everywhere from outside the tackle to over the center. Off the field, he would be a leading candidate to be a team captain if he returns in 2019.

The 6-foot-4, 274-pound Bennett might be able to do some of the same things as Flowers, but it's notable that most defenses he has been part of over his 10-year career have played a notably different style. The Buccaneers, Seahawks and Eagles have primarily been 4-3 units, and seldom altered their looks -- or what techniques they asked their linemen to execute -- as frequently as New England does.

Because of this, many defensive linemen who play in New England have relayed that it takes a certain selflessness to thrive in the scheme.

Flowers has proven to be an ideal fit, and that's why it's hard to imagine the Patriots simply letting him walk out the door without an earnest attempt to retain him. The team still has the salary-cap space to do so after acquiring Bennett, while also leaving itself room to make other necessary moves.

But should Flowers' market expand to a point that the Patriots aren't comfortable going -- similar to what unfolded last offseason with offensive tackle Nate Solder and the New York Giants -- Bennett's arrival would at least soften the blow.