Another free agent is leaving the hooded shelter of New England for Tennessee this offseason, as the Titans are reportedly signing running back Dion Lewis to a four-year deal, according to a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Lewis is a pretty amazing tale, a guy who was taken with a fifth-round pick out of Pittsburgh by the Eagles only to struggle in the system and bounce around the NFL before finally landing on the Patriots and breaking out. He scored a small deal with New England, battled some injuries and exploded down the stretch in 2017, looking like one of the best backs in the NFL for stretches.
The timing was perfect, because Lewis is hitting free agency at the age of 27. Even in a market where there is not a ton of interest in running backs, Lewis is a perfect match for a team like the Titans. And he apparently is getting paid, with Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reporting (we think) that Lewis will be paid like a top-10 back in the NFL next year.
Tennessee cut DeMarco Murray this offseason to turn Derrick Henry into their feature back. Lewis doesn’t require carries — he just needs touches to make a difference. He can serve as a third-down back but also line up as a receiving back on any down in Matt LaFleur’s offense.
This marks the second time this offseason — without free agency actually having started — that the Titans have raided the Patriots’ cupboard to secure a player. Former Pats personnel man Jon Robinson earlier swooped in to hand Malcolm Butler a massive contract, giving the former Patriots cornerback a $61 million deal to join the Tennessee secondary.
Last year, Robinson also added Logan Ryan in free agency.
It’s easy to start falling in love with the offense for the “Patriots South” as you go up and down the depth chart. Marcus Mariota is a beast in waiting if put in the right system that caters to his skillset. Henry and Lewis are a very complementary one-two punch for the Titans’ running game, a perfect blend of power and speed/explosion. At receiver Corey Davis is going to be better than people thought after a rough first season, and Taywan Taylor certainly flashed last season. Rishard Matthews remains underrated. Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith are a nice combo at tight end.
If the Titans’ offense comes together the way it could based on this personnel grouping and the defense starts to take shape, this could be an intriguing team to watch for the 2018 season.