When Dion Lewis signed a four-year, $23 million free agency contract with the Tennessee Titans, the New England Patriots lost their number one running back of the 2017 season. How the team will replace Lewis' production remains to be seen but the belief is that it will take a group effort from the players currently part of the position depth chart – a depth chart that might soon add another player.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Patriots are hosting free agent running back Orleans Darkwa on a free agency visit today:
The #Patriots are taking a look at one of the sleepers of the free agent class: #Giants RB Orleans Darkwa is visiting New England today, source said. Would be an intriguing addition, especially after Dion Lewis left in free agency.
Darkwa originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014. After starting his pro career with the Miami Dolphins, the Tulane product joined the New York Giants midway through his rookie campaign and went on to spend the next three-plus years with the club. Along the way, Darkwa established himself as a rotational option for the team on both offense and special teams.
In 2017, the running back had a breakout season of sorts. Darkwa became the Giants' number one player at the position and set new career-highs in almost every statistical category, including rushing attempts (171), rushing yards (751) and rushing touchdowns (5). The veteran, who also caught 19 passes for 116 yards, finished the year as New York's leader in yards from scrimmage.
Despite that, the team has not yet brought the 26-year old back – opening the door for him to look for a job some place else like New England. Darkwa certainly would be an intriguing, comparatively cheap player to add to the Patriots' offense as a bigger back to compete with the likes of Mike Gillislee and Jeremy Hill.