In a series of unusual moves by the Patriots, running back Dion Lewis could be cut. First, the Patriots have signed Rex Burkhead to a contract worth starter money. Then they signed an offer sheet with Bills RFA Mike Gillislee. The contract is worth $6.4M with $4M guaranteed. That same day, they extended Super Bowl hero James White’s contract another three years. If the contract reaches its maximum value, it will be worth $15M.
Now, with all these moves it hasn’t been the best off-season for Dion Lewis. It seems like the Patriots are doing everything possible not to have to rely on him. They extended his partner in crime who took over his starting job and brought in two more versatile backs.
Not having to rely on Lewis is wise, and they will never have to. Lewis was reduced to a limited role once he returned to the team after his ACL injury. White took over the job and never looked back. Lewis was used in certain points in games, while White was the focal point of the offense in the Super Bowl.
White and Burkhead are locks to make the roster while Gillislee will be too if and when he signs. This puts the Patriots at three running backs on the opening night roster. Even Brandon Bolden was brought back. Bolden was pretty much only used for special tams purposes but, he is still a roster spot. We also cannot forget DJ Foster. Foster rarely played, but was thought of enough by the staff to be on the roster for some of this past season.
This puts the Patriots in an awkward spot. They can keep the cheap option in Foster or keep Lewis in favor of Foster and have $660K to go along with him on the salary cap. Lewis is on the books for $1.3M while Foster is on for $540K
However, another option to be considered is a trade. What could Lewis command in a trade? With a strong running back class coming out, one would think not as much as he should. Maybe a fourth? But at that point anything would be a good return.
It is going to be interesting to see how this situation plays out over the course of the off-season.