Lamar Miller is entering the final year of a four-year deal worth $26 million. Texans general manager Brian Gaine has already come out and said that Miller will be the team’s starter for the 2019 season. He called the 27-year old veteran a “three-down back.”
In 14 games last season, Miller rushed for 973 yards and five scores.
When asked about backup running back D’Onta Foreman, Gaine said he was optimistic the third-year back will have a greater contribution as he gets back to full health. Foreman spent almost the entirety of 2018 recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in November 2017.
What should the Texans do about the running back position moving forward?
Lamar Miller will want to get paid handsomely next season. He’ll be 28 by the time he hits the market. One would have to imagine that in Miller’s last opportunity for a hefty paycheck as a professional football player, he will be looking for the highest bidder. Miller is going to command a bigger deal, and Foreman is a mystery.
The Texans need to first worry about the inevitable (yet deserved) day when franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson will seek a mega deal. Both he and Patrick Mahomes could be the first ever $200 million NFL contracts. Former first overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney wants a payday to remain in Houston. Wide receiver Will Fuller is eligible for free agency in 2020; he is arguably the best over-the-top receiver in the league when healthy, a modern day DeSean Jackson, if you will. When several players who are more important to the nucleus of the Texans due for raises, Miller will likely have to search elsewhere if money is his priority.
D’Onta Foreman is an unproven commodity who needs to show that he can return to full health and pre-injury ability. Before his rookie season injury, the running back out of Texas averaged 4.2 yards per carry in his limited playing time, so there is reason to hope he can produce on this level despite the significance of an Achilles injury.
The Texans have decisions to make. If you are the type of person who lives in the moment, you have nothing to worry about. If you are the type who is constantly focused on the future, it is time to address the issue before it’s too late.
First of all, Le’Veon Bell is not happening. It was a fun thought once upon a time, but another team can back up the Brinks truck for that one. There has been speculation that the Texans may chase Tevin Coleman. The fifth-year running back was an intricate part of the Falcons during their Super Bowl run in 2016, and he performed well last season when starter Devonta Freeman missed extended time due to injury. Coleman is mainly an up-the-middle running back who can also be useful in the short passing game. That sounds a whole lot like Lamar Miller. Coleman is a good option, but he is not going to solve any big running back problems. He is better suited for a by-committee tandem, if the Texans are interested in that.
Other free agents include Mark Ingram, Doug Martin, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Davis, and C.J. Anderson. It’s hard to imagine any of them would draw much of the Texans’ interest because of money, age, or injury history.
The Texans could also look to the 2019 NFL Draft for a running back. The issue with that is their list of priorities. The offensive line desperately needs to be addressed, as does the secondary. If the Texans want to look for a running back prospect, they may need to do it in a later round. That takes the big names off the table and turns it into a gamble-type situation. Will Bryce Love out of Stanford fall far enough into the draft? What about Justice Hill from Oklahoma State? Darrell Henderson from Memphis? Luckily, these questions are not in dire need of answering at this moment.
But if you are like me, and you think about issues that won’t be relevant for a whole year, it is a slight concern as the 2019 offseason rolls on.