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Patriots don’t want to trade Dion Lewis, but teams should offer anyways

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The Patriots running back is in a crowded backfield.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I would love for RB Dion Lewis to stick with the New England Patriots. I expect him to finish out his final contract year, where the Patriots will pay him roughly $1.4 million if he remains healthy- a bargain for a player of his caliber.

Lewis’ contract also contains playing time incentives (just like James White’s deal), where Lewis can make an extra $200,000 if he plays 40% of the snaps, $300,000 for 50%, or $400,000 for 60%. It would be a shock to see Lewis achieve any of these playing time incentives, not for lack of talent, but because of all the mouths in the Patriots backfield.

Mike Gillislee needs touches. Rex Burkhead needs touches. James White needs touches. Apparently Brandon Bolden will be sticking around. There’s so much talent that D.J. Foster might not even make the team.

And so other franchises might be interested in calling the Patriots about the availability of Lewis because all the other running backs signed new deals in the past year. They just shouldn’t expect the Patriots to strike a deal, according to the Herald’s Jeff Howe.

“The Pats haven’t shown any interest in trading Lewis,” Howe writes, “but other teams examine their depth chart and wonder if he could be pried away. Don’t expect any movement unless a team is willing to overpay. The Patriots have been happy with Lewis this summer.”

Running backs are oft injured and the Patriots saw what happens when you don’t have a good player in the backfield in 2015. Dion Lewis provides value on kickoffs and he’s a huge red zone threat.

There is a fair question of redundancy in the Patriots offense, though, and whether the team might be willing to move forward with the electric D.J. Foster instead.

Would you take one more year of Lewis or three years of Foster and a draft pick? What draft pick would it take for you to consider the trade? I would be surprised if any team gave more than a fourth or fifth round pick for Lewis because of his injury history and his pending free agency.

But if a team like the Chargers, Bears, Rams, or 49ers offered one of their many wide receivers or pass rushers in a player swap, or in addition to a draft pick, I’d listen. The Patriots are arguably the deepest team in the league at running back and they could use some help at other positions thanks to all of these injuries. It’d be foolish not to pick up the phone.

I just wouldn’t expect a team to make an offer that Bill Belichick couldn’t refuse.