Count new Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis among that group of ex-Patriots happy to be wearing a jersey other than the New England jersey he sported for three seasons from 2015 through 2017.
“I’m happy with the decision, and this is the decision I would’ve made even if [the Patriots] did offer [a contract],” Lewis told The Boston Globe. “If [the Patriots] wanted me, they could’ve had me. But obviously, they didn’t want me, they didn’t think I was good enough to be there. I just had to move on and do what’s best for me.”
Arguably the top running back of the free agent market last season (even with his lengthy injury history) after a season that saw him total over 1,100 yards of offense with nine touchdowns, the 5-foot-8 Lewis absolutely cashed in with the Titans by way of a four-year pact worth $19.8 million, $8.25 million of which was guaranteed. It’s an offer that the Patriots were never even going to come close to matching, even if they made Lewis their top offseason priority.
But saying that the Patriots ‘obviously didn’t want’ Lewis back is straight from the hyperbole factory.
It almost goes without saying that the Patriots have never been a team that overextends themselves for a player following a career year (which Lewis most definitely had in 2017), and especially not at a position with the year-to-year volatility of running back. And considering the fact that the Patriots already had James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, and Mike Gillislee still in the picture (they also added first-round draft pick Sony Michel and signed free agent Jeremy Hill), Lewis should not have been surprised by an outcome that left him priced out of New England’s backfield.
Still, it’s no shock that the scrappy Lewis is using whatever he can to pump himself up for Year 1 in yet another new city — and with legitimate expectations on his shoulders now as part of a potentially lethal one-two punch with Derrick Henry.
“I always carry a chip on my shoulder, always eager to prove the kind of player I am,” Lewis said. “And that’s not going to change just because I got a contract. I’m self-motivated. I feel like I’m a great player and I’m always eager to show what type of player I am.”
Lewis and the Titans will square off with the Patriots in Tennessee on Nov. 11.