Hours after reaching agreement with cornerback Malcolm Butler, Tennessee is set to sign tailback Dion Lewis to a four-year contract, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of the situation. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports Lewis’ deal is worth $20 million with another $3 million in incentives, according to a source informed of the situation.
Since assuming the reins as Titans general manager, Jon Robinson has imported ex-Pats Lewis, Butler, cornerback Logan Ryan and quarterback Matt Cassel in addition to hiring New England’s three-time Super Bowl winner Mike Vrabel as head coach.
What is new coordinator Matt LaFleur getting in Lewis? No player rushed for more yards (625) in the second half of last season. Among all backs with 150 or more rushing attempts, his per-carry average of 4.98 yards led the NFL in 2017.
One of the best bargains of the Bill Belichick era, Lewis was originally signed to a reserve/future contract late in 2014. Over the past three years, the Patriots posted a 32-4 (.889) record with Lewis on the field compared to 13-7 (.650) when he was unavailable.
So why isn’t Lewis ranked higher than No. 27 on Around The NFL‘s Top 101 Free Agents of 2018? While he’s been extraordinarily effective on a per-touch basis, his size and injury history suggest he’s best utilized as a role player working in tandem with a power back.
That will be the case in Nashville, where he figures to handle passing-down and change-of-pace duties as the ideal complement to early-down hammer Derrick Henry.
When the Titans coaches reviewed their 2017 game film, they likely encountered a pressing need for elusiveness and big-play ability. Lewis fills the bill on both counts.