The New England Patriots' victory versus the Buffalo Bills on Sunday featured some standout performers on both offense and defense. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, for example, once again proved that he has Buffalo's number while linebacker Marquis Flowers had a breakout game in the middle of New England's defense. And once again, Dion Lewis showed why he is one of the best running backs in the NFL.
The 27-year old played a career-high 51 offensive snaps and also set career-marks in terms of carries (24), rushing yards (129) and offensive touches (29) while finishing with 153 yards from scrimmage. Lewis, who gained 5.4 yards per rushing attempt behind an excellent blocking performance by the Patriots' offensive line, also scored two touchdowns during his team's 37-16 win.
The best rushing performance of his seven-year career is a continuation of Lewis' outstanding season. After starting the year as a rotational piece, he grew into New England's top running back option and one of the standout offensive skill position players alongside Rob Gronkowski and Brandin Cooks. His 977 yards from scrimmage are the third-most on the team while Lewis also leads the team in every major rushing category.
This does not only bode well for the Patriots, who can rely on Lewis to be a game-changer at the running back position, but also for the players himself. After all, he is in the final year of his contract and set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. And Sunday's performance, during which he carried New England's offense on a comparatively quiet day for Tom Brady the passing game, again shows why he is a must-resignee.
In fact, the Patriots would be smart to finalize a deal as soon as possible to a) prevent Lewis from hitting the open market in the offseason while b) also being able to make parts of the deal count against this year's salary cap, which sees New England with roughly $3.28 million available left to spend. Keeping Lewis, who also serves as the Patriots' kick returner, long-term would also allow the team to enter 2018 with some continuity at his position.
After all, Rex Burkhead is also about to become a free agent as well. Ideally, New England locks up both players to give Tom Brady as well a running back corps to work with as possible. And Lewis, as the top performer of the group, should be as high up on the front office's priority list right now as any other deal. He simply keeps proving week in and week out that he is a weapon the Patriots need to keep for the foreseeable future.