As recently as 2018 with Houston, Lamar Miller was one of the better all-around running backs in the NFL, but he missed all of last year due to serious injury and is still without a team. Here are Miller’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year as well as the Panthers’ over/under win total. We are doing Carolina’s win total as Miller would make perfect sense as a backup to Christian McCaffrey there.
Miller was a fourth-round pick out of the University of Miami by the hometown Dolphins. Miller’s first big season came in 2014 when he rushed for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per rush. He also caught 38 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. Miller ranked 10th in the NFL in rushing yards, only one of 13 players to break 1,000 yards and was eighth in rushing touchdowns.
The next season, Miller rushed for 872 yards and eight touchdowns while catching 47 passes for a career-high 397 yards and two touchdowns. That winter, the Texans signed the free agent to a four-year deal worth $26 million with $14 million guaranteed. Miller was pretty good in 2016 with Houston, rushing for 1,073 yards and five scores and catching 31 passes for 188 yards and a TD. He also rushed for a score in a Wild-Card win over the Raiders.
Miller put up 888 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 36 receptions, 327 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns in 2017. In 2018, Miller had a 97-yard TD run vs. the Titans, the longest play in franchise history and the longest touchdown run in the NFL since Miller did it in 2014, becoming the only player in NFL history with two touchdown runs over 95 yards in a career. Overall, Miller finished the 2018 season with 973 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns, 25 receptions, 163 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.
Alas, in the 2019 preseason Miller suffered a season-ending torn ACL vs. Dallas. Miller was tackled by Cowboys tackle Maliek Collins, who hit him just above the left knee. He was eventually carted off the field. It was his first carry of the preseason and it would end up being the last time he would suit up for the Texans. The injury was devastating because it occurred in the final year of Miller’s contract.
Overall in the NFL, Miller has 5,864 yards on 1,354 carries — a 4.2 yards per carry average — and 32 touchdowns. On the receiving end, Miller has 209 receptions for 1,565 yards and eight touchdowns. Miller has only ever had one season when he didn’t reach at least four yards per carry when he averaged 3.7 for the Texans in 2017.
Miller is now a free agent, and teams likely won’t be rushing to sign him until they can give him a physical. According to Sports Injury Predictor, Miller is a “medium risk” with a 53.6% chance of injury in 2020 and a predictive 1.2 games missed.
Carolina could be an option behind superstar Christian McCaffrey. Since McCaffrey took over the lead role in 2018, the Panthers haven’t had a solid No. 2 option to spell him. Last season, wide receiver Curtis Samuel recorded the second-most rushing yards (130) on the team. Carolina selected Jordan Scarlett in the fifth round of the 2019 draft, but he only registered four carries for nine yards in nine outings.
Reggie Bonnafon is currently listed as the Panthers’ No. 2. Last year, he had just 67 snaps and 22 touches behind McCaffrey. Bonnafon did average 7.3 yards on 16 carries. The Panthers re-signed Bonnafon this offseason for one year and $585,000. A healthy Miller would clearly be an upgrade.
The Philadelphia Eagles also could be an option, but they may be leaning toward LeSean McCoy or Devonta Freeman. The Los Angeles Chargers also could make some sense after losing Melvin Gordon to free agency. The Bolts have a good back in Austin Ekeler, but he’s better as a receiving threat out of the backfield.