Injured tight end Zach Miller will be a Chicago Bear in 2018 after the team announced he had signed a one-year deal.
The deal will pay him $458,000, even if he doesn't play. The possibility of playing in the NFL again remains a long shot.
Miller suffered a catastrophic injury to his left leg Oct. 29, which included a dislocation of his knee and a torn artery behind his kneecap that required emergency surgery to prevent an amputation. Miller had eight surgeries in the six weeks after his injury, and in an inspiring return to Halas Hall last December, he was able to take a few steps without the aid of crutches and a heavy brace. He began walking without crutches in March.
When asked about a possible return to football back in December, Miller said: "I haven't really thought much of football. I would love to play football. We'll cross that road when it's time."
Because 2017 was the final year of Miller's previous contract, he would have been an unrestricted free agent without any prospects, had the Bears not stepped up with their offer to a 33-year-old player who has a very slim chance of getting back to his prior level of performance.
As recently as April, Miller said: "(Retirement) is a realistic thing. I know that, but I haven't made any of those decisions as of yet. I know there's a point where I'll have to decide on that. I'm just not at that spot yet to determine whether I want to come back and try to play or move on."
If Miller beats the odds and is somehow able to play this year, he would make $790,000. The Bears' compassionate contract offer, in addition to rewarding a popular player who is unlikely to ever play again, is a classy move and allows him to continue his rehab at the team's facility. Miller is likely to spend the 2018 season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
Miller battled a variety of injuries early in his career after he was drafted in the sixth round in 2009 by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He endured more than three years without playing in a regular season game from 2011-2014 because of a variety of injuries to his shoulder, calf and foot.
But the former Nebraska-Omaha quarterback persevered and put together his two best seasons as a pro in 2015 and '16, while with the Bears. In those two seasons, Miller caught 81 passes for 925 yards and nine touchdowns. He had 20 receptions for 236 yards and two touchdowns last season before he was hurt.
• Bob LeGere is a senior writer at Pro Football Weekly. Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere or @PFWeekly.