Dion Lewis is one of the newest additions to the New York Giants, and the veteran will prove to be a versatile weapon in 2020.
The New York Giants certainly improved on paper via the free-agent market this offseason, having added a new No. 1 corner in James Bradberry along with a solid inside linebacker in Blake Martinez. Just looking at what either has done thus far in their careers, it’s safe to say they’ll be respective upgrades from the problematic Janoris Jenkins and inconsistent Alec Ogletree.
But one of the organization’s acquisitions that actually hasn’t garnered too much attention is at the running back position. In March, the Giants agreed to a one-year deal with now-former Tennessee Titan and New England Patriot Dion Lewis.
As a 29-year-old back, Lewis is at that weird age where he’s probably entering the latter stages of his career but isn’t old enough where one foot is already out the door. Nonetheless, he still possesses talent, and the organization will be able to use him in a multitude of ways.
In terms of making the team, I believe Lewis essentially has a roster spot in the bag. The Giants wouldn’t sign a guy like this just to cut him around five months later (cue the “we didn’t sign him to trade him” jokes) and he brings much more value to the roster than some of the other guys within this position group. Jon Hilliman and Wayne Gallman simply don’t have the skills, versatility, nor experience that Lewis possesses.
Not to mention, Dion has sheer familiarity with the new leader of this coaching staff. Prior to his most recent two-year stint with the Titans, Lewis spent 2015-17 with the Patriots, having won Super Bowl 51 alongside current Giants head coach Joe Judge.
So now that we’ve established that he’ll more than likely be with the team in the regular season, where will New York use him? Well, for one, it’s become a passing league, and Lewis has shown he carries the ability to succeed in that area from the running back position.
Just two seasons ago, Lewis racked up a total of 59 catches for 400 yards and one score through the air. His reception and yards totals were respectively second and third on the Titans that year, as he proved to be a solid backup to starting running back Derrick Henry.
His skills in these regards weren’t just limited to Tennessee’s system either. During his time in New England, Lewis succeeded in the passing game by reeling in 36 and 32 catches respectively in 2015 and 2017.
As a developing quarterback, Daniel Jones will need that reliable back to check down to if the downfield passing lanes are clogged. Saquon Barkley has proven to be talented in that area, but he can’t do it all on every single play and take 100% of the reps from that spot. It’s not like he’s immune to injuries either — Giants fans know this all too well.
Special teams could additionally be a department for Lewis. While he won’t be the front-runner for the kick returner position — I didn’t even include him on my list of potential options — Lewis still has a history there. Arguably his best season at the position came during the 2017 campaign in New England, where his current head coach was in his third season as the Patriots special teams coordinator.
Throughout that year, Lewis returned 23 kicks for 570 yards (career-high 24.8 yards per return) with a 103-yard score in a win over Denver. Familiarity means a lot in this league, and Lewis’ past success at returning kicks with Judge as his special teams boss could possibly transfer over to East Rutherford this year.
His age might not be ideal when it comes to this position, which was the main reason why I didn’t include him on the aforementioned list. Nevertheless, if the Giants want to get as much out of his athleticism and versatility as possible, they will at least give him a look.
And finally, don’t rule Lewis out as an option to run the football if Barkley needs a breather. As mentioned before, Barkley can’t be on the field for every single down — no running back in this league can. If he sits out for a play or two, expect Lewis to potentially earn some reps in the running game.
The veteran racked up over 500 rushing yards just two seasons ago while primarily serving in a backup role. During the 2017 campaign — his final year with the Pats — Lewis gained a total of 896 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 5.0 yards per carry in what was the most productive season of his career in terms of rushing statistics.
Simply speaking, the man can run the football. He’ll certainly become a reliable backup to No. 26 when given those types of opportunities.
Lewis has proven to be talented in a number of facets throughout his career, which most definitely played a role in the Giants’ decision to acquire him in March. The coaching staff will be looking for him to assist the team as much as possible, and he could significantly do so from multiple spots.