NASHVILLE, Tenn. — News broke Tuesday of the Tennessee Titans intentions to sign cornerback Malcolm Butler to a five-year, $61 million contract. Shortly after, additional reports surfaced stating that running back Dion Lewis, another player leaving the New England Patriots as a free agent this offseason, will join Butler in their move from Foxborough to Nashville.
— NFL (@NFL) March 14, 2018
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the value of Lewis’s contract to be worth $20 million with an additional $3 million in incentives over a four-year span. The addition of Lewis comes in the wake of Tennessee releasing three-time Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray two years into his four year deal. Murray was acquired by trade in general manager (and former Pats personnel man) Jon Robinson’s first offseason at the helm. The presence of Lewis gives the Titans backfield a true third-down dimension with Derrick Henry thought to fill the role of starter with Murray’s departure.
Lewis was highly effective against Tennessee in a 35-14 loss when the Titans traveled to New England this past postseason for the AFC’s Divisional Round. The former fifth-round pick led his team in rushing with 62 yards on 15 carries and did even more damage receiving out of the backfield with nine catches for 79 yards through the air. Lewis’s receiving abilities have caused match-up nightmares for opposing clubs across the League for the entirety of his seven years as a professional. The Pittsburgh product averages 8.1 yards per reception for his career and was one of Tom Brady’s favorite weapons because of it.
Injuries have hampered the 28-year-old running back and durability concerns played a part in the Patriots signing of Mike Gillislee to a two-year $6.4 million deal in the 2017 offseason. In 2015, Lewis tore his ACL and played only seven games that season. He did not return from that injury until Week 11 of the 2016 season. Despite the adversity, Lewis managed to be a highly effective player; he ran for 896 yards and six touchdowns for an avereage of 5.0 yards per carry while catching 32 passes for 214 yards and an three additional touchdowns in New England’s most recent campaign. Football Outsiders ranked him first at his position in defense-adjusted yards above replacement.
In 54 games played, Lewis has five receiving touchdowns, 10 rushing touchdowns to go with 717 yards and 1,584 yards through the air and on the ground respectively.