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Time for Bill Belichick to extend New England Patriots RB Dion Lewis.

Patriots have clear and easy decision to make on RB Dion Lewis

Ryan Wooden

The New England Patriots are approaching an important decision on running back Dion Lewis and it’s critical that the organization make a swift and decisive move to protect the franchise’s best interest.

The Patriots have been known for their salary cap savviness and their ability to evaluate personnel, so you can expect them to make the right decision on an extension for Lewis. However, as Lewis continues to prove his value in a larger role in the offense, haste will be of primary importance.

After beginning the season looking like he was buried on the depth chart and considered a luxury within the offense, Lewis has seen his workload gradually expanded as the season goes on. In reality, he was most likely being conserved after a knee injury cost him a large portion of both the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Now, Pro Football Focus grades him as the fifth-best running back in the NFL this season and he now leads the Patriots in rushing despite 16 fewer carries than Mike Gillislee. In addition, while James White remains the primary receiving back, Lewis has showcased his receiving abilities out of the backfield by hauling in all 14 of the targets he’s received in 2017.

Lewis has scored 3 touchdowns in the last two weeks and has gotten at least 14 touches in four consecutive games. That’s a high work rate considering they still haven’t played him in more than 30 snaps in any contest.

Any film study of the Patriots makes one thing perfectly clear in the last month. If Lewis is in the game, there’s a high likelihood he’s getting the ball. He’s touched the ball on 59 of the 102 snaps he’s played in those games.

Which makes his productivity that much more impressive. His 4.7 yards per carry is eighth-best in the NFL among qualifying players and that’s simply a product of his elusiveness.

Lewis routinely makes people miss in the open field and that’s not a skill that you want to allow to hit the open market. So the Patriots should get him a deal as quickly as they can with unrestricted free agency approaching in 2018.

New England already did an in-season extension for Lewis once, back in 2015 when he exploded onto the scene. The Patriots have some cap flexibility now and Lewis is likely anxious to secure a contract that will give him peace of mind knowing that this could be his last chance at a big deal as a 27-year-old running back.

So it’s time for Patriots coach Bill Belichick and general manger Nick Caserio to make the quick and easy decision to extend Lewis as quickly as they can.