This off-season, the New England Patriots office is counting down the days until the season opener by nominating the best player to wear each jersey number throughout history. Today marks 98 days left until the Patriots kick off the 2019 season. We nominate Trey Flowers as the best Patriots player to don number 98.
98 Days to Kickoff: Trey Flowers
All Players to Wear 98
According to Pro Football Reference’s Player Index, the following players have worn number 98 for the New England Patriots:
The Case for Flowers
The Patriots struggled for years to put together a consistent pass rush that could rival some of the AFC’s best. While they still haven’t put together a front that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks, the Pats did have a fearsome presence in Flowers.
His contributions were crucial in the Patriots postseason runs to both Super Bowl LII and Super Bowl LIII, and he started eight regular season games and all three postseason games in the Patriots journey to Super Bowl LI. His 12-yard sack on Matt Ryan in the second half of Super Bowl LI kept the Patriots in the game and set up the Atlanta Falcons punt that would result in the Patriots game-tying offensive drive.
Over the course of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 regular seasons with the Patriots, Flowers racked up 21 sacks, 164 tackles including 24 tackles for loss, 59 quarterback hits, and five forced fumbles.
Flowers was a disruptive force in New England, able to beat blocks sometimes by sheer force of will alone. If Flowers didn’t make his way to the quarterback himself, his presence consistently shook up the pocket and spoiled the play long enough for another rusher to shed their block and make the tackle.
His determination to make plays made the former fourth-round pick a huge name in the free agency market following his second Super Bowl ring in 2019, and he signed with the Detroit Lions on a well-deserved deal.
Like Flowers, Owens also played on three New England squads that saw action in the postseason. But unlike Flowers, none of his postseason runs ended with a ring. The Patriots were knocked out of contention in their first games in 1982 and 1986. Owens was part of the 1985 Patriots team that lost Super Bowl XX to the Chicago Bears.
Owens spent his entire five-year career and started 44 games as a nose tackle for the Patriots. He recorded 14.5 sacks and three fumbles recovered.
Pleasant spent his twilight years in New England, wearing jersey number 98 in the navy and red. Pleasant had a banner year for himself in his first year with the Patriots in 2001. The defensive end recorded career highs in interceptions (2) and tackles for loss (11) while racking up 35 tackles, six sacks, and a forced fumble.
Pleasant played three seasons for a total of 37 games in New England. He ended his playing career in 2003 after appearing in only seven games that season.