Lamar Miller has not met expectations over the last two seasons, but could the Houston Texans really cut him?
Deshaun Watson’s season-ending ACL tear was a big factor, but the Houston Texans’ offense left a lot to be desired last season.
Houston had the 14th-ranked rushing attack in the league (115.1 yards per game) led by running back Lamar Miller’s 888 yards on the ground. But taking out Watson’s contribution as a runner (269 yards), that would drop to 98.3 yards per game and become the league’s 25th-ranked rush offense.
Miller averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry last season, with 25 fewer touches despite playing two more games compared to 2016. A one-two punch with rookie D’Onta Foreman seemed to work fine, until Foreman went down with a torn Achilles in November.
Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com took a closer look at Houston’s running back situation recently. The idea of the team parting ways with Miller halfway through his four-year deal surfaced,. But is that move likely?
The Texans are not strapped financially heading toward the new league year, with close to $64 million in salary cap space right now (via OvertheCap.com). Letting Miller go would clear an additional $4.75 million, with $2 million in dead money for 2018 as a pre-June 1 cut. His full cap number of $6.75 million is palatable for the Texans, and it may give Miller a chance to rebound. But he is not deserving of said chance all things being equal.
Foreman may be cleared for training camp, and he could be ready for Week 1. His injury came at an especially inopportune time, with 10 carries for 65 yards and two touchdowns in that Week 11 game against the Arizona Cardinals before he went down. He had nearly as many carries (18) as Miller (21) did over the previous two games, so a shift toward Foreman as the lead back before the season was over seemed inevitable.
Foreman’s timeline for a full recovery from his Achilles tear will go a long way toward determining what the Texans do with Miller, and No. 3 running back Alfred Blue is set to become a free agent. But the 2016 Doak Walker Award winner, after topping 2,000 yards during his final season at Texas, deserves to be atop the depth chart whenever he’s healthy.