It seems like every offseason we’re talking about the Detroit Lions seeking a running back to either compete for a significant role or add some much-needed depth. This year appears to be no exceptions. Although Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough are both under contract in 2020, and both provided some reason for optimism, there are still plenty of questions behind them. Can Ty Johnson take a big jump in year two? Will the Lions bring back J.D. McKissic?
As a result, the rumors are already starting to swirl that the Lions could be active in free agency at running back this offseason. CBS Sports is reporting that the Lions are expected to pursue Titans running back Dion Lewis should he become available.
Before the Lions even have a shot at Lewis, a few dominos need to fall. Most importantly, the Titans would likely have to re-sign Derrick Henry, who is seeking a big pay raise this offseason after a phenomenal 2019 season. If that happens, Tennessee is expected to cut Dion Lewis, who signed a four-year, $19.8 million deal in 2018. Lewis is facing a $5.16 million cap hit in 2020 and the Titans can get over $4 million in cap relief if they let him go.
At 5-foot-8, 195 pounds, Lewis isn’t the bulldozing back that the Lions have sought in previous offseasons. He’s also coming off of a lackluster two-year stint in Tennessee, rushing for just 726 yards on 209 carries (3.5 YPC) and a single touchdown in both years combined. That being said, he’s a legitimate receiving threat who pulled in 59 catches in 2018, but just 25 last year.
Lewis did have a three-year stint with the New England Patriots when both Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia were within that organization. Those were Lewis’ most successful years, including a 2017 season in which he rushed for 896 yards, six touchdowns and 5.0 yards per carry and added an additional 214 receiving yards and another three scores.
The Lions were rumored to be interested in Lewis back in 2018, but they opted to add LeGarrette Blount and draft Kerryon Johnson, instead. Now that Lewis has faced some serious struggles in Tennessee, it’s tough to see why the Lions would be that interested in him now, but he could provide some competition for Detroit’s young backfield.