The New England Patriots running back corps will not be the same in 2018.
This would be a pretty big loss as Lewis was the #1 back last season. It seems that Lewis isn’t happy with how he was used last season and is hoping to get paid this offseason.
Last season Lewis had 180 carries for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns. He had a pretty good season but wasn’t used as much as prior seasons since the Patriots had 4 running backs who could be starters. The team adopted a running back by committee role so Lewis had to share the ball.
It would be a shame if Lewis left New England. He is a running back who weaves through defenses and is very difficult to take down.
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Also, Rex Burkhead is a free agent. Burkhead had 64 carries for 264 yards and 5 touchdowns last season, but was also a threat in the passing game with 30 catches for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns. Burkhead’s ability out wide made him a great dual threat, but the Patriots already have a better form of Burkhead in James White.
What to expect in 2018
With Lewis not returning, the Patriots already have their work cut out for them. With that, the Patriots are going to need to sign another back. Mike Gillislee didn’t maintain a high level of play. He had some great moments, but couldn’t keep it up for the whole season.
A name that would be interesting for the Patriots to sign is Damien Williams. The running back who played with the Miami Dolphins last season was impressive when he took over for Jay Ajayi. Just when it seemed like Williams was getting used to the offense he got injured. Williams is similar to Lewis in that he is tough to tackle, but Williams is much larger standing at 5’11” and weighing 224 pounds.
If the Patriots are unable to make any free agent signings they would have to look to the draft. If that happens it would mean Gillislee would be the every-down back while White would come out on third downs and obvious passing situations.
It has been an interesting offseason for the New England Patriots. The running back group will not be the same as it was last year. With Tom Brady not getting any younger, having a running back who can help take the toll off of TB12 would be a valuable asset.