The New England Patriots reportedly have signed free agent running back Lamar Miller to a one-year deal, providing some needed backfield insurance.
The deal is contingent on Miller passing a physical, according to the ESPN report.
Miller joins a crowded backfield but one that might not have 2018 first-rounder Sony Michel for a while. Michel remains on the PUP/active list as he rehabs his foot following offseason surgery.
Almost one year ago to the day, the 5-foot-10, 221-pound Miller suffered a torn ACL and MCL as a member of the Houston Texans. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2018 with Houston, rushing for 973 yards and five TDs and catching 25 passes for 163 yards and another score that season.
Having some familiarity with the Patriots’ offensive system, having played for ex-Patriots assistant Bill O’Brien in Houston, can’t hurt Miller’s chances of making the team if he’s healthy.
Plenty of RB competition in New England
The Patriots still have 2019 third-rounder Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead and third-down back James White in the backfield, along with undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor, so it’s a pretty crowded room Miller is entering.
Is this a potential sign that Michel might not start the season healthy? If he remains on the PUP list to start the league year, he’d be required to miss at least New England’s first six games.
Since entering the league in 2012, Miller has rushed for 5,864 yards — eighth among active players — and 32 TDs. He’s also proven to be a reliable pass catcher and pass protector, which the Patriots require in their backs.
In 11 games against Bill Belichick’s Patriots, playing for the Texans and Miami Dolphins, Miller has rushed 148 times for 578 yards (3.91-yard average) and one TD, also catching two more scores on 23 grabs.
In the 2018 season opener with the Texans at Foxborough, Miller ran for 98 yards on 20 carries, including a 31-yard run. It was the third-most rushing yards the Patriots’ defense allowed to a single player that season.
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