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Dion Lewis wants to feel 'valued' in free agency

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Coming off of a career year with the AFC champions, Dion Lewis finds himself in a familiar state: Unwanted.

Since being drafted in 2011, Lewis has spent time with four franchises (Eagles, Browns, Colts, Patriots) and run the gamut of transactions (traded, waived, cut, signed, PUP, IR). The undervalued running back is on the market once again, slated to be a free agent after leading the New England Patriots in attempts (180), rushing yards (896) and total touchdowns (10) in 2017. Lewis missed nearly a year of football, from November '15 to November '16, with a torn ACL, but roared back by playing the best ball of his career, transforming from a third-down weapon to an every-down back for Bill Belichick.

But now, the Patriots are apparently through with the 27-year-old journeyman running back, who wants to set the record straight about his health, explaining Tuesday on The Adam Schefter Podcast that this is the best he's felt "in a long time."

"I just have to keep taking care of my body," Lewis said. "I learned a lot throughout my career. I've listened to my body more than I usually do. Sometimes I try to push through things because I like to work hard. I've learned I have to listen to my body."

Lewis has only tallied more than 200 touches in a season once (2017) and has totaled in his career about as many rushing attempts as Steelers stud Le'Veon Bell racked up all of last season (329 vs. 321).

The tailback insists that his early lack of production is actually an indicator of a longer career to come.

"I think I have a lot to give. I think my career's just getting started, especially these last three years," Lewis said. "My first three years in the league, I didn't even get to play. You know, I didn't take many hits. So these past three years is the only opportunity I really got to be on the field.

"So my body feels great. My legs feel good. I don't feel 27. I feel 22, 23. I just tell teams that I'm fresh. I don't take many big hits when I'm out there. I think I've got a lot to give. I love this sport and I'm going to play as long as I can. I think I've got a lot of years ahead of me."

Lewis isn't holding his breath over returning to New England, an organization notorious for its cold treatment of overvalued skill players. "It's a business," Lewis said. "I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket." After all, the tailback concluded, it's better to be wanted.

"My main thing is making sure that I'm valued," Lewis said. "That's my biggest thing. Make sure I'm valued the way I value myself. That's the biggest thing."

After averaging $1.2 million annually in New England, Lewis will most definitely see his value increase this offseason. Just likely not with the Patriots.

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