It was inevitable that the Tennessee Titans would part ways with veteran DeMarco Murray. With Derrick Henry seemingly ready to take the lead, could Jon Robinson fill the position with former Patriots?
The Tennessee Titans made the right in decision in parting ways with DeMarco Murray. That move alone resulted in $6.5 million of added cap room. GM Jon Robinson also handed veterans Matt Cassel, Eric Weems, and Da’Norris Searcy their walking papers, which gives Robinson a decent chunk of change to go after difference makers and still have enough room for contract extensions down the line.
New England Patriots running backs Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead are scheduled to hit the open market once free agency officially begins on March 14th. While both backs possess similar attributes, the potential additions of Lewis and Burkhead could perfectly round out the running back stable for new OC Matt LaFleur.
We all know what Lewis brings to the table: He’s an extremely explosive and twitchy weapon that can make a play from anywhere on the field. Lewis’ skill set is a perfect match to complement Derrick Henry’s. Having the option to either run around or bully defenses is an extremely valuable asset to have for your offense.
The potential addition of Lewis is obviously what fans would get more excited about in this scenario. The idea of Lewis taking advantage of Mariota’s quick release underneath is something that can easily be seen as appealing. In the playoff game against the Titans, Lewis toted the ball 15 times for 62 yards (4.1 YPC) and torched the Titans’ linebackers and safeties for nine catches for 79 yards. Titans fans got to see firsthand what Lewis could contribute to an offense in a big-time game.
While that excitement is warranted, there are some red flags that do come with the Pittsburgh product. The biggest one involves Lewis’ ability to stay on the field. Last season was the first year he was able to play in all 16 games of the regular season. Prior to that, he’s had seasons that consisted of 15 games (2011), seven games (2015-2016), and nine games (2012).
That’s where Robinson could decide to ‘double-dip’ with running-backs from New England. While he’s not as explosive, Rex Burkhead can bring similar dimensions to an offense in the place of Lewis. Last season, Burkhead averaged 4.1 YPC on the ground while catching 30 passes and five touchdowns. Burkhead is the ideal number three back to have, because he will make a difference on special teams as well.
Both Robinson and new HC Mike Vrabel have preached about players being team-first, while also having the ability to be versatile. Plays like this are what personify those qualities that the Titans say they’re looking for.
While the Titans have other needs to attend to, filling the running back depth chart behind Henry could be vital for the offense’s success in a new scheme. Considering Robinson’s tendency to rely on personal connections, it doesn’t make it impossible to see two former Patriots tote the rock in two-tone blue this upcoming season, especially if they can both be had for a total of around $8 million annually.
Dion Lewis’ Potential Contract: 3 Years, $15 Million
Rex Burkhead’s Potential Contract: 2 Years, $7 Million