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Baltimore does not franchise Jamal Lewis

Apparently, the Baltimore Ravens will let Jamal Lewis test free agency.  From the Baltimore Sun:

"The Ravens decided not to place the franchise tag on Jamal Lewis yesterday, a move that could signal the departure of the franchise's all-time leading rusher and a new direction for the team's running game."

Although Ozzie Newsome said, "the Ravens will be involved in the negotiating process", Jamal Lewis believes he is gone.

"My gut feeling is I won't be back," Lewis told The Sun. "They didn't negotiate with me [throughout the season], so why would they negotiate with me now?"

Additionally, Lewis lists the Patriots as one of the teams he would like to play for:

"Lewis envisions a "fresh start" in free agency, saying he would be interested in playing for the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots or division rival Pittsburgh Steelers."

Hmmm, very interesting.  I am not sure the Patriot brass will pursue this.  Even though our running game was awful last year, as I said in my review I think it was more of a problem with our offensive line and Dillon's injuries.  Throwing a ton of money at Jamal Lewis will not solve the problem.  I think he is a great back and would love to see him in a Pats uniform, but I just don't think that is where we need to spend our money.  Additionally, I would like to see the Patriots draft a young running back for the future.

If the team decides to go the free agent route, I would rather see them go after Chester Taylor rather than Jamal Lewis.  It seems as though the Ravens are going to let Taylor test the market also:

""Their probable course of action is to let Lewis and backup Chester Taylor test the free-agent market and try to re-sign one of them if they don't receive the value they're seeking."

Taylor has less wear and tear, would come cheaper and did not spend any time in jail...which is another reason that I believe the Patriots will not bring in Lewis.

2005 Yards per Carry:

Lewis: 3.4 ypc

Taylor: 4.2 ypc

It is nice to know however, that players are more often than not listing the Patriots as one team they would like to play for.  That tells me that the players believe the Patriots are still an elite team and a strong organization that is still a top contender.