Could running back Lamar Miller find his way back to the Miami Dolphins during the 2018 free agency period?Get ready for game day with this Lamar Miller Nike Game jersey!
Lamar Miller’s time with the Houston Texans has been disappointing since leaving Miami in 2016 free agency and signing a 4-year/$26 million deal. His projected cap hit of $6.75 million for 2018 is not team friendly given his performance during the 2017 season. There’s much speculation regarding his potential release from the team when the free agency period begins.
Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins will be looking to add depth at the running back position this offseason after losing former lead back Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade, and current backup Damien Williams will be entering free agency once again.
Now, head coach Adam Gase has been very open on how much he respects and admires Williams game. The running back could be brought back for another go-around with the Dolphins, but should they choose to look elsewhere during free agency or if Williams finds another team, Lamar Miller could be a fit.
Gase wants to run a two-back system, he’s admitted it several times during the 2017 season after trading away Jay Ajayi and again at the NFL Scouting Combine. His philosophy is to have a pair of backs with similar skill sets, so he can call any play he desires without worrying whether or not he has the correct personnel on the field.
What is he looking for?
“I think anybody that can play all three downs. Really, that’s the biggest thing I look for, is a guy that can both run the ball, pass protection and catch the ball out of the backfield.”
Lamar Miller fits this prototype.
Miller may not have the power and physicality that is ideal to push the pile or be a featured back, but he is a smooth runner with good vision who possesses the speed and quickness to get to the outside and break big runs. He developed his pass protection skills during his time with the Dolphins, and also has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Miller was 2nd on the team in catches amassing 36 receptions for 327 yards (9.1 avg.) and 3 touchdowns this past season.
However, his 888 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3.7 yards per carry average are not anything to write home about.
Fellow FanSided writer James Mastrucci, who covers the Houston Texans for the ToroTimes, believes quarterback play during the 2017 season affected Miller’s rushing production as it went down from his 2016 total of 1,073 and 5 touchdowns with a 4.0 yards per carry average.
“I would definitely have to think that poor quarterback play is the absolute root of the issue here,” Mastrucci began. “Defenses are not exactly scared of Tom Savage or T.J. Yates. This allows them to play closer to the line and suffocate Miller.”
“Brock Osweiler wasn’t great in 2016, but he wasn’t as bad as everyone makes him out to be. He did just enough to keep defenses honest and create space for Miller. That was only the case with Watson under center this season and still Miller only produced marginal results.”
These “marginal results” would most likely put Miller on the free agent market at a cheap price and presumably cheaper as teams would now tend to view Miller more as a complimentary piece rather than a featured back.
The Buffalo Bills recently signed Chris Ivory to a 2-year/$5.5 million deal to become LeSean McCoy’s backup. Miller could be looking at similar contract offers should he be released in the coming weeks.
A contract like this would benefit the Dolphins and their current salary cap situation, which is reportedly more than $19 million over, making cheaper additions to the team much more desirable.
The Dolphins also may be more inclined to add a veteran player as a backup rather than a rookie draft pick who would need time to learn the responsibilities of pass-protection and blitz-pickups. These are aspects of the NFL game that are challenging to master for RBs coming out of college.
As of now, Damien Williams looks like the cheaper option as a re-sign. But should he move on to a team that would offer more money for his services, Miller could be an intriguing fit in Adam Gase’s offense and at a price that is not detrimental to the team’s cap.