Running back Lamar Miller has made considerable strides since entering the NFL in 2012, and he was rewarded for that progress Wednesday as the Houston Texans signed him to a contract ahead of the start of free agency.
Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported the deal, with Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reporting it's for four years and $26 million with $14 million fully guaranteed. The Texans posted a photo of Miller signing his deal on Thursday:
Rand Getlin of NFL.com noted the 24-year-old Miller could have signed for $7 million per season elsewhere but liked the situation in Houston and agreed to a deal worth $6.5 million annually.
Although Miller started 15 games in 2013, he truly established himself in 2014 as he set career highs with 1,099 rushing yards on 5.1 yards per carry with nine total touchdowns. He also emerged as a receiving threat out of the backfield with 38 grabs for 275 yards.
While Miller's rushing production fell off a bit in 2015 to the tune of 872 yards, he still averaged a solid 4.5 yards per tote and set career highs with 47 receptions for 397 yards, along with 10 total touchdowns.
Miller admitted to being somewhat disappointed by his dip in rushing yards, but he still felt as though he enjoyed a fairly fruitful season from an individual standpoint, per ESPN.com's James Walker.
"I think I did all right," Miller said. "Of course I wanted to get 1,000 yards. That was my goal coming into this season. But that didn't happen. But I think I did a good job with my opportunities to try to help this team win and just try to make plays."
It is difficult to blame Miller for failing to reach 1,000 rushing yards considering the fact that he dealt with plenty of turmoil in 2015, including the firing of head coach Joe Philbin and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Rookie Jay Ajayi also cut into his playing time as the year progressed.
After what was likely a frustrating year for Miller, he stressed the importance of finding a good scheme fit during free agency, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald:
Lamar Miller said the most important aspect when he picks his next team is "fit," more so than money or a chance to win.— Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) January 4, 2016
"It'd be great to continue playing my NFL career here in my hometown. But this is a business and I'm going to sit down with my agent and we're going to talk and go from there," Miller said.
There was plenty of interest elsewhere, as Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tabbed the Cowboys and Texans as front-runners. Rapoport then reported on the Texans' efforts in particular to sign Miller.
Despite Miller's ties to Miami, he ultimately decided to join the Texans in favor of what he likely considered to be a better opportunity to produce as a featured running back.
In the wake of the Texans' release of longtime starter Arian Foster, every indication points toward Miller's being the team's workhorse ahead of lesser options such as Alfred Blue.
Miller is an immense talent, and although he enjoyed some success in Miami, it seems as though he has only scratched the surface of his potential. Because of that, he could turn out to be one of the offseason's best signings for a Houston team that loves to run the ball.
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