The New England Patriots play the Green Bay

Packers in prime
time and it’s pretty obvious that the Patriots need some time to get healthy.
The injury report is enormous and there are new players listed that have key
roles on the team.Yikes.Here’s the report from Wednesday.Did Not PracticeEdelman
and Mason are new additions to the injury report ,
while Wise had previously been “limited” with ankle and knee injuries. Hopefully
all three will be able to play on Sunday night against the Packers. Hollister
and Schwenke aren’t expected to contribute.Perry is a key defender for Green
Bay.Limited PracticeNo players came off the injury report for the Patriots, but
Allen and Cardona are also new additions. It’s never a good sign when your
special teams stars are injured. Both the Patriots and the Packers have
incredibly important players listed on the report. We’ll see if they remain on
the report as the week continues. Let’s just dive right in.Myth: “The Patriots
signed Dion Lewis off the couch when no one else would.”Reality:After being
saddled behind star bell cow LeSean McCoy for his first two years and then being
swept up in Chip Kelly’s house cleaning following Andy Reid’s four-win 2012
season, Lewis broke his fibula after signing on with the Browns in 2013.
Naturally, after a 4-12 season in 2013, the Browns fired first-year head coach
Rob Chudzinski and GM Michael Lombardi.After a long rehabilitation process,
Lewis was cut at the end of August in 2014. Finally healthy enough to play, he
signed with Indianapolis for a short stint that September. After being released,
he continued working out for teams — including the Patriots — but it was simply
too late in the year to catch on anywhere solid. The Patriots signed him to a
reserve deal on the final day of December in 2014. Lewis’ experience as a street
free agent wasn’t special. The Patriots didn’t bend over backwards to
specifically bring him into their building. Existing team personnel wasn’t
altered in any way by his arrival. It was simply the natural process of filling
a 90-man roster with depth that lead to Lewis’ opportunity.Myth: “The Patriots
aren’t cheap, they just don’t want to pay running backs long-term.”Reality: Few
have advocated harder for the eradication of the “Patriots don’t pay anybody”
narrative more than myself over the past few years. They consistently rank in
the top-five year after year in the number of players on the roster with cap
hits that account for 1% or more of the league salary cap. More than any other
organization, they heavily invest in their practice squad. And, they’ve been
known to adjust the terms of incentive tiers for veterans on track to narrowly
miss their target figures, or who have their roles change.However, in Dion
Lewis’ scenario, the Patriots clearly low-balled him. The deal that Lewis signed
could have been managed easily by the Patriots this offseason ,
who entered free agency with around $21 million in cap space. After a 2017
season where he was such a dynamic, integral part of the offense, the only
conceivable reasons for the Patriots to let him walk were injury history and
age.Interestingly enough, months after Lewis’ departure, the Patriots opted to
take a running back in the first round with a significant injury history. In
doing so, they committed $8,389,710 in fully guaranteed dollars to Sony Michel
over four years. The deal Dion signed with the Titans fully guaranteed him $5.75
million at signing. Perhaps even more important — given the injury history of
each player and the nature of the running back position is how the dead money
shakes out if either player were to be cut or traded during or after the 2020
season;Dead Money: 2020 | 2021 Michel: $4,931,517 | $2,306,055Lewis: $1,125,000
| $562 ,500This
isn’t to say that Sony Michel won’t be an excellent asset to the organization
for the duration of his contract, but realistically, his selection won’t be
deemed a success unless he becomes the complete back that Dion Lewis already
is.Myth: “It was a classless move by Lewis, and he’s lost any respect he had in
New England.”Reality: Every NFL player is constantly on the lookout for
something that can give them an edge on any given week. And, if Dion Lewis
learned nothing else from his time in New England, he learned the value of
quality bulletin board material. After being low-balled in March coming off an
amazing 2017 season in Foxborough, you can bet last Sunday’s game had been
circled on the Lewis family calendar for quite some time. So when he and his new
teammates demolished the Patriots in every aspect — to the tune of a 24-point
blowout victory — it’s fair to say that his emotions were running a bit hot in
the locker room after the contest. What exactly what was classless about the
situation?If in the spirit of good-natured competitiveness, if you want to
classify Lewis’ comments as saltiness, go for it. But considering the former
Patriots running back got the contract he desired and the revenge game victory
he psyched himself up for, it’s honestly hard to even make a valid argument for
that.If these few passionate remarks not only cause you to label Lewis as
classless, but to also forget everything he provided for the organization over
his three-year tenure, then maybe sports just aren’t for you.Myth: “The Patriots
stuck with him through his ACL injury, and this is how he acts?!?!”Reality: It’s
funny how quickly people forget just how good Lewis was for New England in 2015.
In fact, he was so good that he became the focal point of their entire offensive
attack through the first three weeks of the season — leading to the organization
signing him to a modest two-year contract. A month later White
Ja'Whaun Bentley Jersey
, he tore his ACL against
Washington.However, the notion that the Patriots “stuck with him”— as if it was
out of the kindness of their hearts — is asinine.Players on IR don’t take up a
roster spot.Having inked him to the extension just weeks before, the Patriots
would’ve incurred $544,117 in dead money by releasing him immediately (which
obviously would have been ridiculous), and $400,000 in the 2016 offseason.If
Lewis were to find himself unable to find a landing spot with a new team once he
completed his rehabilitation, he could have filed for injury protection, which
started counting against teams’ salary caps in 2016. Lewis would’ve been
eligible for $400,000 in salary (50%). Myth: “Dion Lewis owes his entire career
to the Patriots organization.”Reality: Did the Patriots organization play a role
in the spring-boarding of Dion’s career? Sure — but no more so than any other
team who had a player on their roster put together a breakout season. Josh
McDaniels didn’t hit the holes for Dion — or catch his check-down targets.
Robert Kraft didn’t execute Dion’s blitz pickups, and Bill Belichick didn’t
subject himself to the hundreds upon hundreds of hits that Dion did.Set aside
your tribalistic devotion to the organization for a moment. Try to remember how
incredibly rare the talents of NFL players are. Remember that they spend their
whole lives working for the opportunity to finally earn a living from those rare
talents. And more importantly, remember that they are human too. If you truly do
that, then maybe you’ll see that the real myth is believing that players like
Dion Lewis owe their careers to teams that operate like the cold, calloused
corporations that they are.The Reality? Dion Lewis doesn’t owe the Patriots a
damned thing.Follow Brian Phillips on Twitter — @BPhillips_SB
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