ST. PAUL, Minn. — LeGarrette Blount has insisted all week he has “no friends” in New England in the lead-up to Super Bowl LII. But that didn’t prevent him from stumping for one of his ex-teammates Monday night.
Blount, who’s now with the Philadelphia Eagles, was asked during Super Bowl Opening Night whether Patriots running back Dion Lewis deserves to land a big contract once his current deal expires this spring.
“Yes,” Blount said, without hesitation. “One hundred percent. Yes.”
Is Blount biased? Sure. But he’s also not wrong.
Lewis, who dealt with multiple serious injuries earlier in his career, has been fantastic for the Patriots this season, shattering his career high with 896 rushing yards on 180 attempts while also catching 32 passes on 36 targets for 2014 yards. He scored 10 touchdowns during the regular season: six rushing, three receiving and one on a kick return.
And he did this all despite beginning the season at the bottom of New England’s running back depth chart.
“I’ve seen him catch the ball as well as any back in the league,” said Blount, who played two seasons with Lewis in New England before signing with the Eagles last spring. “I’ve seen him run the ball as well as any back in the league when the opportunities have presented themselves. He almost had 900 yards rushing on, I want to say, 170, 180 carries. 5 yards a carry — not that I pay attention to my dog or anything.
“But yeah, he deserves to get paid. I think whatever team he goes to, he definitely deserves a bag.”
Lewis, who was drafted by the Eagles in 2011, missed the entire 2013 and 2014 seasons. He signed a futures contract with the Patriots on Dec. 31, 2014 and flashed for seven games in 2015 before tearing his ACL. The injury cost him the rest of that season and the first half of the 2016 campaign, as well.
The 5-foot-8, 195-pound dynamo came back stronger, though, and after working his way back to full strength over the second half of last season, he exploded in 2017, establishing himself as one of the NFL’s unlikeliest elite running backs.
“We saw it in him early — as early as when he signed and came to the team,” Blount said. “With OTAs his first year, you saw it. He came (to New England) — obviously, they had (running back Travaris) Cadet there, and they had another guy there that I don’t remember — and he just kept grinding and kept working. Kept grinding and kept working. An opportunity presented itself, and he always took advantage of it. So I think he deserves (a payday).”
Lewis earned $1.2 million in salary this season. He’s almost guaranteed to receive a substantial raise once free agency opens in March. Will the Patriots be the ones cutting the check?
“I’m not sure,” Blount said. “I don’t know. To each his own.”