By far the biggest drawback to Lewis is his injury history. In his career, Lewis has had three major injuries. He fractured his fibula in 2013, tore his ACL in 2015, and fractured his patella in 2016. The first two of these three injuries were season ending, and the third caused him to miss a little more than the first half of the 2016 season.
Since joining the Patriots in 2015, Dion Lewis has been a fantastic play maker, when available. When available is the key term, as he has played just 30 of 48 possible regular season games in that time frame. If the Lions were to sign Lewis, it would come with significant risk of injury, although Lewis is coming off of the first season in his career in which he played all 16 games.
Some would argue that Lewis simply does not have the size to be an every down back in the NFL. Standing at just 5’8″ and weighing under 200 pounds, one can see why there is reason for concern. Lewis’ small stature is even more alarming when combined with his injury history.
Although Lewis has been fantastic for the Patriots over the last few years, there are definitely legitimate concerns regarding how long he can keep up his level of play. A player of his size, and with such significant durability issues could potentially have their career ended at any moment.
Should The Lions Sign Him?
In my opinion, Lewis should be one of the biggest free agent targets for the Lions in the 2018 offseason. Detroit has no clear number one running back at the moment, and, although Lewis may not be able to shoulder the load of a Le’Veon Bell or Kareem Hunt type back, he could still be a more than serviceable starter for the Lions.
If the Lions were to sign Lewis and then draft a running back within the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL draft, running back could go from a position of weakness to a position of strength over the course of the offseason. A backfield of a highly drafted rookie, Dion Lewis, Theo Riddick on passing downs and Ameer Abdullah for depth looks really good on paper.
Lewis is very likely to receiver a cheaper contract than other free agens running backs like Carlos Hyde, Isaiah Crowell, and others while arguably being a better player. If the Lions can sign Lewis to a two or three year deal paying in the vicinity of $2,500,000 per year, it could be the steal of the offseason.
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