Dion Lewis has to be the Patriots top offseason priority

Dion Lewis wants to get paid, but the Patriots need to find a way to hold onto him.

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The New England Patriots 2017 season ended in heartbreak, but there is still plenty of optimism around the region.

With Tom Brady returning for another season in 2018, the Patriots are the early Super Bowl LIII favorites. He can’t do it all on his own though. Brady’s supporting cast is just as important, and running back Dion Lewis is no exception.

Lewis has been electric in New England, in the rushing game, passing game, and on special teams. Now, he’s set to test free agency.

The Patriots need to have Lewis on the top of their priority list this offseason.

While fellow running back Rex Burkhead is also hitting the market, Lewis is the one New England should focus on. In 2017, he broke loose for 1,110 total yards and 9 touchdowns. He appeared in all 16 games, after getting on the field in just 7 in each of the prior two seasons. Lewis’ best season in New England looks like it will earn him a very solid payday.

The market value for Dion Lewis is expected to be around three years, $15 million. That is surely not what New England would like to pay, but losing him could be detrimental to the offense.

New England has a history of players accepting less money though, for the chance to win a Super Bowl. Lewis has won a title with the Patriots already, but that doesn’t mean he wants another any less. The team showing the most interest in Lewis to this point is the Detroit Lions, and while Matt Patricia will surely do a great job there, they aren’t a contender. If winning is a priority for Lewis, he could take a more team-friendly deal to remain with the Patriots.

The business side of football is tough, because the players do deserve to go out into the market and receive what they are worth, but they have to weigh the benefits. Is a ton of money while losing really worth it? To many, it’s good enough, but most want to win as well.

Of course, Dion Lewis could simply be looking for the biggest payday of his career and there would be nothing that the Patriots could do about it. If he is going to demand the $15 million contract, it’s out of their hands and they will have to look elsewhere for a new running back. The upcoming NFL Draft features a ton of talent, and there are other free agents as well. Players like Shane Vereen, Isaiah Crowell, and Jeremy Hill will all be available. The New England Patriots would have plenty of options to replace Dion Lewis, but the way that he has fit into the offense has been amazing.

Lewis also brings kickoff return potential than most other players do not. Beyond the offensive production, the Patriots will not want to lose the threat of having him back to return kicks in key moments. Lewis has the ability to change a football game with just one play.

It will be an offseason of decisions for Lewis and the Patriots, but someway, somehow, he needs to remain in Foxboro in the navy and silver.