Last season Zach Miller suffered a gruesome knee injury against the New Orleans Saints, and the Chicago Bears are still sticking with him.
On Monday, the Chicago Bears signed the 33-year-old tight end to a one-year deal worth $458,000. If Miller somehow plays, he will earn $790,000. The odds of Miller playing again are very slim.
Miller suffered a dislocated knee and torn popliteal artery on an overturned touchdown catch in their Week 8, 20-12 loss against the New Orleans Saints. According to Chris Mortensen, Miller had to undergo emergency surgery to save his leg.
Since joining the Bears in 2014, Miller caught 101 passes, 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. In 2015, led Chicago with five touchdown receptions.
As a result of the injury, the Bears ventured into free agency and signed former Eagles tight end Trey Burton to a four-year, $32 million deal. Burton, who was the Eagles’ third option, caught 23 passes, 248 yards and five touchdowns. Although he did not score in Super Bowl LII, he threw his first NFL pass to Nick Foles for a touchdown, right before the half.
Miller’s contract expired at the end of 2017, which means the Bears were technically done with him. Rather than letting him walk and watch his NFL career end on a sour note, the Bears did something admirable and showed their loyalty to Miller.
Chicago is the second team this offseason that assisted a player who suffered a career threatening injury. According to ESPN, the Pittsburgh Steelers converted Ryan Shazier’s 2018 base salary into signing bonus. The significance of this move, allowed the linebacker to receive approximately $8 million.
Shazier was injured during the Steelers’ Week 13, Monday night bout against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. He underwent spinal stabilization surgery and has been rehabbing with hopes of playing again.
The biggest difference between both scenarios is that Shazier is still under contract through 2018. Regardless both organizations went above and beyond to ensure some sort of financial stability while recovering.
More teams should feel inclined to follow what the Bears and Steelers have done when it comes to the their players. Yes, certain athletes have a disability policy, such as former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, who suffered a career-ending injury in 2013. But, organizations should show more devotion to these athletes.
The Bears and Steelers have opened a new path for teams to follow when it comes to dealing with players who sustained possible career ending injuries. They are showing gratitude to their players and giving them support when most feel abandoned.