LAKE FOREST – There are many reasons why this move could be a little unusual, yet in some ways it makes a lot of sense.
In the Ryan Pace era of the Bears, one of the constants of the Bears’ organization has been the leadership of Zach Miller. He’s one of those players that has been through a lot in the NFL with injuries and team changes, providing an example of what kind of success can come from perseverance.
He was playing well before a foot injury that ended his season in 2016. The next year was the same scenario before suffering a devastating knee injury against the Saints in late October, yet he remained around the team as he begins a long recovery.
Maybe that’s why the Bears extended a one-year contract offer to Miller, who has long odds to play in the 2018 season as he continues to recover from the left knee dislocation that nearly cost him his leg. There’s value to the tight end that goes beyond some catches on the field, and the fact the Bears recognized that meant a lot to Miller.
“Pretty cool, tough to put into words,” said the tight end of the one-year contract extension. “It’s really, in general, how they’ve taken care of me since day one. That relationship with George (McCaskey) personally and the entire organization just kinda blossomed. It’s tough for me to put it into words what it means to me but I’m very thankful and just grateful to be apart of this family.”
While a nice gesture, some do wonder if Miller will be able to recover enough to start playing again. When it happened last season, and when he needed emergency surgery to save his leg, many wondered if that would be the end of his career for the 33-year old tight end. Then Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a similar injury in August of 2016 and he wasn’t back on the team’s active roster till November of 2017. He was 23 years old when the injury occurred and now he’s going to get another chance with the Jets to start up his career.
Nevertheless, Miller continues to work back from the injury, citing steady progress since the end of 2017. The goal to play remains, even if the road remaining ahead still is difficult.
“Continuing to just work on strengthening that area, everything around it,” said Miller of his rehabilitation. “That’s the big thing about this is to have that opportunity to continue to do that. So I feel good, just continuing to get stronger get healthier. Time will tell, put everything into it that I can and see where that takes me.”
For right now, that won’t be out of Chicago. The Bears see him being too valuable to do that, injured or not.