Tight end Zach Miller might not ever play football again, but he's going to be paid as a player by the Chicago Bears this season. On Monday, the Bears signed Miller, 33, to a one-year contract even though the leg injury that he suffered last season might prevent him from returning to the field.
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, Miller can earn $790,000 if he is able to play in 2018. But even if he can't play, which is a very real possibility, he'll still make $458,000, Florio reported.
So, give the Bears and general manger Ryan Pace credit for taking care of one of their players who didn't have to be taken care of. The Bears could've just let Miller, who became a free agent this offseason, attempt an unlikely comeback on his own without a team. They didn't owe him any money or anything, really. Instead, they're bringing him back without any guarantees he'll be able to step foot on a field again. And hey, maybe Miller will find a way to complete a miraculous recovery with the team that helped turn him into a legitimate starting tight end in the league.
Miller suffered the injury against the Saints in late October, when he seemingly came down with a heck of a touchdown catch.
Immediately after the play, Miller was stretchered off the field with a serious-looking leg injury and taken to the hospital. After the game, then-Bears coach John Fox called the injury a dislocated knee. It turns out, Miller nearly lost his leg to an amputation. He underwent emergency vascular surgery to repair a torn popliteal artery. In all, he's had at least nine surgeries since the injury.
From 2015-17, Miller caught 101 passes for 1,161 yards and 11 touchdowns in 33 games. So, when healthy, he's demonstrated his ability to serve as a capable tight end. However, injuries have always haunted his career. From 2009-14, Miller appeared in 33 of 96 possible games. From 2015-17, he played in 33 of 48 possible games.
The Bears figure to replace Miller's production with a combination of second-year tight end Adam Shaheen as well as free-agent newcomer Trey Burton. If Miller can make his way back onto the field, it'll be a nice bonus for the Bears and an incredible story. If he can't, at least he's getting taken care of by the Bears and not abandoned in free agency. According to the team, Miller has been rehabbing at Halas Hall.
Every once in a while NFL teams remind us that they're actually run by human beings. Monday was one of those days.