BOSTON (CBS) — Dion Lewis has loved his three seasons with the New England Patriots, but it sounds like the soon-to-be free agent is ready to cash in this offseason.

Lewis is coming off the best season of his career, racking up over 1,100 total yards on offense to go with nine total touchdowns. The dynamic running back took control as New England’s lead back after a slow start to the year, and led the team with 896 rushing yards on 180 carries by season’s end.

Lewis has been an absolute bargain for the Patriots over the last three years, and his production in that time had put him in line for a big raise. He’s certainly earned it, but it’s sounding more and more likely that it won’t be coming from the Patriots.

Joining ESPN’s “The Adam Schefter Podcast” on Monday, Lewis said he would like to stay in New England, but he also wants to make sure he gets what he believes he’s worth in free agency.

“It’s a business. I love it here and I’ve grown great relationships in this area. The past three years have been great. I’m close to home; I can get to New York in two-and-a-half hours, so I’m real close to my family. So things are perfect. But at the same time, it’s a business,” said Lewis. “Hopefully it’ll work out, but at the same time you can’t always think that way. You’ve got to take care of yourself and your family at the same time. So it’ll definitely be tough. I hope it can work out, but at the same time, I’m not putting all of my eggs in one basket.”

Lewis will become a free agent on March 14 if he does not sign an extension with the Patriots, and will undoubtedly earn a big bump in pay from the $1.2 million he made last season. His versatility has made him a valuable asset in the New England offense, but he’ll likely receive some hefty offers from other teams — ones the Patriots likely won’t be willing to match.

“I know how the team likes to handle their business and, as a running back, you have to make the most of your opportunity,” he said. “Me being the player that I am, my main thing is making sure I can go out there next year and show people the type of player I can be. I still think I can improve from what I did this past year, so my main thing is just making sure I’m valued. That’s my biggest thing, to make sure that I’m valued the way I value myself. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

The 27-year-old said he still has a lot to give to any team that wants his services.

“I think my career is just getting started, especially these last three years. My first three years in the league, I didn’t even really get to play so I didn’t take many hits. These past three years is the only opportunity I’ve had to get on the field, so my body feels great,” said Lewis. “My legs feel good. I don’t feel 27. I feel 22, 23.”

Lewis has been one of those classic bargain bin finds by Bill Belichick over the last three seasons, but like other hidden gems, it appears Lewis ready to cash in on the open market.


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