Lamar Miller

Injury Notes: Brown, Wallace, Berry, Bolts

As the Steelers enter their must-win (plus-help-required) Week 17 scenario, their best player is not certain to be available. Antonio Brown missed three practices this week and is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. The four-time All-Pro is undergoing tests on his injured knee, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Brown has not missed a game this season. While Pittsburgh would be favored to beat Cincinnati at home without Brown, two-time reigning AFC North champions have not exactly been bastions of consistency this season or in recent years. The Steelers can clinch their fifth straight playoff berth with a win and a Ravens home loss to the Browns.

Here’s the latest on the injury front, shifting to one of Brown’s former teammates:

  • Although the Eagles surprisingly brought Mike Wallace back onto their 53-man roster without the usual IR-return practice routine, the deep threat will not play against the Redskins on Sunday. Philadelphia declared Wallace out because of his ankle injury, making the team’s move to activate him strictly for the playoffs. To make the playoffs, Philadelphia needs to beat Washington and have Chicago stop Minnesota. Wallace is not signed past this season, so it’s now possible he will end his Eagles tenure having played in only two games.
  • The Chargers are assured of a playoff spot, making a possible Hunter Henry cameo more likely. It might occur as soon as next week. Tom Telesco did not rule out his top tight end being ready to return before a possible wild-card game, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Henry participated in seven-on-seven drills with the Bolts on Friday, Williams tweets, doing so after being confined to individual work last week. The Chargers designated Henry to return from IR on Dec. 17, so they have until the divisional round — if their season extends that far — to make a call on Henry.
  • Eric Berry cannot shake his troublesome heel ailment. The three-time All-Pro Chiefs safety continues to battle this issue, Andy Reid said, via the Kansas City Star’s Brooke Pryor (on Twitter). Berry has been on a snap count (99 in two games) since making his season debut in Week 15, and Reid did not commit to Berry playing Sunday against the Raiders.
  • Ahead of the Texans‘ pivotal Week 17 game, Lamar Miller will return. Bill O’Brien said his top running back is “good to go” against the Jaguars. Miller missed much of the past two games with a sprained ankle. The Jags are unlikely to have Leonard Fournette available, with the second-year back listed as doubtful.

AFC Notes: Bell, Jets, Ravens, Harbaugh, Browns, Wylie

Although Le’Veon Bell‘s decision to sit out the 2018 season has caused people in the league to question “his character, competitiveness and motivation”, the Jets must go hard after Bell in free agency, opines Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Mehta writes that the Jets have a “golden opportunity” to get Sam Darnold another weapon, and quotes several of Bell’s former teammates who swear by him.

Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon, who played with Bell in Pittsburgh, told Mehta “when he steps foot in this building, you’re going to get 100 percent from the guy” and that he would “bring the best out of so many people.” Mehta writes that the team “would be foolish not to make an aggressive run at Bell”, and he would fit right in with the New York media market. Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has said repeatedly that he plans to be aggressive using New York’s salary cap space this offseason, so Bell being a Jet is a very real possibility.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Despite the team’s surprise announcement yesterday that John Harbaugh would return to coach the Ravens in 2019 and that the team hoped to work out an extension with him, the two sides haven’t had any talks on an extension yet, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. La Canfora seems to think that an extension is still far from a guarantee, and writes that “numerous significant matters would have to be resolved” before any deal could get done. It will be an interesting situation to monitor, especially if the Ravens end up missing the playoffs.
  • After breaking his ankle in practice, Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie had successful surgery and is recovering well the team announced, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link). Wylie, who became a fan favorite due to his starring turn on this year’s season of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’, is “questionable at best” for this weekend’s game, according to the team’s announcement.
  • The Texans will be without to key offensive playmakers for their pivotal game against the Eagles tomorrow, as the team ruled out running back Lamar Miller and receiver Keke Coutee for the game, according to James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link). Coutee has been out for a few weeks now, but this will be Houston’s first game without Miller in the backfield. It’ll likely be a lot of Alfred Blue against a tough Philadelphia defensive front.

Lamar Miller Open To Playing With Adrian Peterson

Native Texan and free agent running back Adrian Peterson has long expressed his willingness to play for Houston’s NFL franchise, and incumbent back Lamar Miller would have no problem with the Texans adding the 33-year-old Peterson, as he explained during an appearance on NFL Network (video link).

“I used to look up to Adrian Peterson growing up,” Miller said. “He runs the ball hard. He’s a great running back. He’s been a great running back in this league for years. It would be good to have him join us, just his leadership, seeing the things he’s done in previous years, that I feel like I could probably learn from him. It would help us out as a team.”

Miller handled the lion’s share of Houston’s carries in 2017, toting the ball 238 times while managing a 3.7 yards per carry average. The Texans certainly have room for another back however, as D’Onta Foreman — who is recovering from a torn Achilles and could hypothetically start the season on the physically unable to perform list — rushed 78 times last year. Alfred Blue, whom the Texans recently re-signed, handled 71 carries of his own.

Arizona acquired Peterson from the Saints last October for the price of a 2018 sixth-round pick, and installed him as its starting running back in the absence of superstar David Johnson. Peterson, who has maintained he wants to continue his career, managed 3.5 yards per carry on 129 rushes and scored twice in the desert. However, he was among the least effective backs in the league: Football Outsiders ranked Peterson 46th among 47 running backs in both DYAR and DVOA, metrics which measure overall and per-play value, respectively.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Panthers, Steelers, Giants

The Panthers are for sale, and the price has reportedly risen to more than $2.5 billion, according to Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg. For reference, the last NFL team to change hands — the Bills — reportedly went for $1.1 billion. The excessive price tag has caused at least one potential bidder, sports apparel mogul Michael Rubin, to drop out of the running, per Soshnick. However, a new suitor has emerged, as Alan Kestenbaum, CEO of private equity firm Bedrock Industries, has expressed interest in the Panther franchise, per Rick Rothacker and Katherine Peralta of the Charlotte Observer.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Los Angeles district attorney does not plan to file vandalism charges against Bills wide receiver Zay Jones following a bizarre incident which was caught on video earlier this week, reports Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter link), who adds insufficient evidence is available to press charges. Jones was arrested following a troubling entanglement in which he struggled with his brother — the Vikings’ Cayleb Jones — before kicking through a glass window. Buffalo selected Jones out of East Carolina in the second round of the 2017 draft. In his rookie campaign, Jones started 10 games and posted 27 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Several teams have been in contact with free agent running back Alfred Blue, per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Steelers, presumably in the market for a veteran backup to Le’Veon Bell, are one of those clubs, but it doesn’t appear as though Blue will be signing with Pittsburgh. Blue, 26, hit his high-water mark in 2015 by rushing for 698 yards in nine starts for the Texans, but the addition of Lamar Miller has forced Houston to scale back Blue’s role since then. In 2017, Blue played on 21% of the Texans’ offensive snaps but managed only 3.7 yards per carry.
  • The Giants are still searching for cornerback help after cutting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie earlier this month, and they’re assessing the market for internal free agent Ross Cockrell, as Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com writes. Cockrell, whom New York acquired from Pittsburgh last September, started nine games for Big Blue in 2017. He finished first in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks on their ability to consistently stop opposing wideouts short of the sticks. Thus far, the Giants have agreed to terms with lower-tier defensive backs such as B.W. Webb, Teddy Williams, and Curtis Riley.
  • Although John Bowlen — son of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen — recently announced his intention to sell his minority stake in the club, he’s since agreed to sell a portion of his total ownership (which is roughly 30-35%) back to the team, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. John Bowlen’s decision to sell wouldn’t have necessarily affected day-to-day operations of the Broncos, as Pat Bowlen — who stepped down as principal owner in 2014 due to Alzheimer’s disease — would have still held the majority of the club and be entitled to designate one of his other children as his successor.

AFC Notes: Chiefs, Bills, Texans, Browns

The Chiefs announced that they have ruled out running back Jamaal Charles for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis. The team says it’s being careful with the four-time Pro bowler given that he suffered a torn ACL last year. In place of Charles, who has only 12 carries in three appearances this season, the Chiefs will continue leaning on Spencer Ware. The third-year man has held his own with nearly 800 total yards (492 rushing, 285 receiving) and three touchdowns in the Chiefs’ first six games.

More regarding Kansas City and three other AFC teams:

  • Bills general manager Doug Whaley tells WGR 550 the trade market has been “relatively quiet,” but he thinks it will pick up after Sunday (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak). He added that the Bills would not hesitate to make a trade before Tuesday’s deadline.
  • Texans head coach Bill O’Brien classifies running back Lamar Miller as a game-time decision for Sunday’s contest against the Lions, according to Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Miller suffered a bruised shoulder in the Texans’ loss to the Broncos on Monday, but he plans to play through it, writes Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Miller and backup Alfred Blue picked up 11 carries apiece in Denver.
  • In addition to the previously reported Cayleb Jones, Jeremiah McKinnon, Blake Muir and James Vaughters, the Chiefs worked out defensive end Bobby Richardson on Tuesday, per Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Richardson started in 11 of 15 appearances as a rookie with the Saints last year, though he didn’t make much of an impact statistically (20 tackles, half a sack).
  • Safety Justin Currie is in Cleveland today for a tryout with the Browns, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. Currie went undrafted from Western Michigan last year and spent time wth the Giants.

AFC Contract Details: L. Miller, D. Johnson, Woods

Here are several of the latest contract details from around the AFC on recently agreed-upon and signed deals. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated…

  • Lamar Miller, RB (Texans): Four years, $26MM. $14.5MM guaranteed. $4MM signing bonus. $3.5MM roster bonus due on March 16. $750K in annual per-game active roster bonuses in 2018 and 2019 (all Twitter links).
  • Derrick Johnson, ILB (Chiefs): Three years, $21MM. $9.75MM guaranteed. $5.25MM signing bonus. $1MM in per-game active roster bonuses in 2017 (Twitter link).
  • Al Woods, DT (Titans): Three years, $10.5MM. $5MM guaranteed. $2.25MM signing bonus. $250K in per-game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Prince Amukamara, CB (Jaguars): One year, $5.5MM. $3MM guaranteed. $1.5MM signing bonus. $500K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Rod Streater, WR (Chiefs): One year, $810K. $110K guaranteed. $10K signing bonus. $1MM in incentives based on touchdowns, catches, and yards (Twitter link).
  • Kellen Davis, TE (Jets): One year, minimum salary benefit. $230K guaranteed. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe).
  • Jamell Fleming, DB (Chiefs): One year, minimum salary benefit. $40K signing bonus. $40K first-game 53-man roster bonus (Twitter link).

Texans Sign Lamar Miller

THURSDAY, 3:20pm: The deal is official, per the Texans on Twitter.

WEDNESDAY, 2:26pm: The Texans’ offensive backfield for the 2016 season is taking shape. After reaching an agreement with quarterback Brock Osweiler, the team is now set to sign running back Lamar Miller when the new league year begins, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter links). According to Schefter, Miller will sign a four-year, $26MM deal that features $14MM in fully guaranteed money.

Miller, who turns 25 in April, is one of the most talented running backs on the market this year. The fact that he was somewhat underused in Miami may have frustrated Dolphins fans, but it could increase his appeal to his new team, since his 638 career rushing attempts don’t represent a huge workload.

In 2015, Miller ran for 872 yards and eight touchdowns on just 194 carries, adding another 397 yards and two TDs through the air on 47 receptions. His lone 1,000-yard season came in 2014, when he piled up 1,099 yards on the ground, with an impressive 5.1 yards per carry average.

According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (Twitter link), Miller could have accepted an offer from another team that would have been worth $7MM annually over five years, but he preferred the shorter term. Given the way NFL contracts are structured, it’s unlikely he would have seen that fifth year anyway.

Miller will take over in Houston’s backfield for Arian Foster, who was cut earlier this month by the Texans. In Miami, Jay Ajayi appears to be the frontrunner for carries with Miller gone, though the team figures to address the position in free agency or the draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Pushing To Land Lamar Miller

WEDNESDAY, 1:15pm: The Texans are still the “team to beat” for Miller, according to Rapoport, who tweets that the Cowboys are in the mix, but that the price tag may be too high for Dallas.

TUESDAY, 1:16pm: The Texans released Arian Foster last week, signaling the end of an era at the running back position in Houston. Could Lamar Miller become the next player to carry the load for the Texans? According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Houston is making a “strong push” to sign the free agent running back when the new league years begins on Wednesday.Lamar Miller

[RELATED: Texans re-sign P Shane Lechler, K Nick Novak]

Miller, who turns 25 in April, is one of the most talented running backs on the market this year. The fact that he was somewhat underused in Miami may have frustrated Dolphins fans, but it could increase his appeal to rival suitors, since his 638 career rushing attempts don’t represent a huge workload.

In 2015, Miller ran for 872 yards and eight touchdowns on just 194 carries, adding another 397 yards and two TDs through the air on 47 receptions. His lone 1,000-yard season came in 2014, when he piled up 1,099 yards on the ground, with an impressive 5.1 yards per carry average.

Reports today have suggested that the Texans have “strong interest” in Miller, and that the Dolphins are increasingly unlikely to re-sign their free agent back. Miller is reportedly seeking an annual salary of $6MM+, so if Houston decides his price tag is too high, the team could see if Chris Ivory is more affordable — Ivory’s market is competitive too though, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, who writes that seven teams inquired on the Jets running back on Monday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Jaguars, Bengals, Ravens

Jerricho Cotchery is not in the Panthers’ 2016 plans, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer writes. Cotchery, 34 in June, hauled in 87 passes for 1,065 yards and four touchdowns over the last two seasons with Carolina. The veteran has said that he would only continue playing if it were with the Panthers, so it’s possible that the former Jet will retire this offseason. Cotchery is effectively a free agent with a contract that will automatically void tomorrow.

The latest free agent rumors:

  • The Jaguars are not close to done after agreeing to terms with Malik Jackson, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) hears. The Jags are still interested in top pass rushers and corners.
  • Albert Breer of NFL.com (on Twitter) senses that the Bengals‘ priority guys are safety George Iloka and wide receiver Marvin Jones. Breer hears there is about $15MM budgeted for unrestricted free agents, which may not leave much room for others.
  • Saints free agent tight end Ben Watson is getting “strong, strong interest” from the Ravens, sources tell Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • The Dolphins are in pursuit of defensive end William Hayes, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. There is a strong market for Hayes, however, so Miami will have some competition to deal with.
  • Running back Lamar Miller wants an annual salary in the range of $6MM or more, which is more than the Dolphins would like to offer, Jackson writes.
  • The Vikings have checked in on Lions free agent linebacker Tahir Whitehead, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter).
  • The Raiders are working to retain wide receiver Andre Holmes but the sense is that he’ll get decent interest elsewhere, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets.

Dolphins In Lead For Mario Williams

The Dolphins are the “clear front-runners” in the Mario Williams sweepstakes, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. According to Florio, Miami is expected to make a push on Tuesday to get something done with the veteran pass rusher, who doesn’t have to wait until Wednesday to sign. Jason Cole of Bleacher Report adds (via Twitter) that the two sides appear to be nearing a deal.Mario Williams (vertical)

2015 was an ugly season for Williams, who didn’t mesh well with Rex Ryan and the new head coach’s defensive scheme, and was accused of displaying a lack of effort at times. Williams is only a year removed from an All-Pro season in which he piled up 14.5 sacks though, so even though he turned 31 in January, he likely still has something left in the tank.

A Monday report indicated that Williams told teams he would sign right away if he received an offer worth $10MM annually. If the Dolphins are confident about signing him, I’d imagine the team’s proposal will approach that figure — Cole suggests it may be worth in the neighborhood of $8MM per year.

The Dolphins have been very active within the last week or so, creating cap space by restructuring Ndamukong Suh‘s and Jordan Cameron‘s contracts and by cutting Greg Jennings, among other moves. However, the team is also set to add Byron Maxwell‘s salary in a team with the Eagles, and has Olivier Vernon in limbo on a transition tag worth nearly $13MM.

It’s hard to imagine the Dolphins keeping both Vernon and Cameron Wake on the roster a their current prices if the team gets something done with Williams. It remains to be seen whether that might mean removing the transition tag from Vernon or addressing Wake’s contract via restructure or release.

The Giants and Jaguars are among the other teams with reported interest in Williams, though a report this morning suggested New York was a long shot.

Here’s more on the Dolphins:

  • The Dolphins are in conversations with a few veteran free agent guards, including Alex Boone of the 49ers, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson observes that Boone has a good relationship with new Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster, who was in San Francisco last season.
  • A source tells Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that Jordan Cameron‘s contract restructure with the Dolphins will reduce his 2016 earnings to $6MM, adding no extra years to the end of the deal.
  • It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that free agent running back Lamar Miller will re-sign with the Dolphins, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.