Perspective altered after two tough years, RB Dion Lewis happy to commit

Dion Lewis signed an extension in New England because the Patriots believed in him and because he fits well in the offense. Stephan Savoia/AP

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Any team could have signed New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis from Sept. 17 last year to Feb. 6, 2015, but none of them did. Only two clubs, the Patriots and New York Giants, had him in for workouts over that time with the promise of an opportunity in 2015.

Lewis hasn't forgotten that, and it helps explain why he was willing to sign a contract extension with the Patriots through the 2017 season, as first reported by ESPN.com NFL Insider Field Yates.

Lewis, who has quickly emerged as the team's replacement for Shane Vereen as a top "passing" back, isn't breaking the bank with the extension. In fact, if he continues on his current pace and remains healthy, he could have been in line to earn a lot more as an unrestricted free agent after the season.

But as Lewis essentially explained Thursday, when you've spent the last two years either on season-ending injured reserve with a broken leg (2013, Browns), getting cut twice (2014, Browns, Colts) and then wondering if your career is over, perspective is altered.

It starts with simply having an opportunity to play. And then when you finally have that opportunity after thinking it might never come, and it's in an offense that seems tailor-made for your skill set, why look elsewhere?

Those were the primary factors that led to the extension.

It is a credit to Lewis, and also to the Patriots' scouting and coaching staffs for identifying and cultivating a player in Lewis who has quickly emerged as a valuable asset.