It appears the magic number is $5 million. The Miami Dolphins want to reach an agreement on a contract extension with running back Lamar Miller that pays him $5 million per season or less, according to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. Miller, meanwhile, seems to want more than $5 million a season.
If Miller were to reach the $5 million a season mark, he would join the upper end of the running back market. In 2016, only five running backs have salary cap numbers higher than $5 million: Adrian Peterson ($11 million), Jonathan Stewart ($9.5 million), DeMarco Murray ($8 million), LeSean McCoy ($7.675 million), and Jamaal Charles ($5.3125 million). Marshawn Lynch, who appears to have retired by has not been officially played on the retired list by the Seattlaw Seahawks, would lead that group at $11.5 million in 2016.
In terms of average salary, Miller would join a group that features Peterson ($14 million per year), McCoy ($8.01 million per year), Murray ($8 million per year), Stewart ($7.3 million per year), and Charles ($6.9375 million per year), along with Lynch's retiring contract ($12 million per year). The Houston Texans released Arian Foster, whose contract was paying him $8.7 million per year, and Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte was making an average of $7.6 million a season on his now-expiring contract.
If the Dolphins and Miller do come to an agreement around the $5 million a season mark, he will be paid among the league's top running backs. He only gained 872 yards this year, but was held to just 194 carries, an average of just 12.1 carries a game. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry, however, which ranked him fourth among the top 15 players in rushing yards this past season, and 15th overall in the league.
In 2014, Miller ran for 1,099 yards on 216 carries, a average of 13.5 carries a game.
The Dolphins have routinely under-used Miller, who is hitting his prime with a relatively low number of carries. There is expected to be interest in Miller this offseason, but rumors seem to indicate that interest is cooling as the March 9 start to free agency approaches, which could be why there is discussion of Miller staying with Miami. It will just be a matter of either Miller lowering his minimum acceptable amount, or the Dolphins increasing the ceiling they have in place for the deal.
Miami should want to keep Miller, who clearly has a lot of productivity remaining. Miller, a Miami native who played high school and college football, as well as the first four years of his NFL career, in his hometown, should want to stay with the Dolphins, assuming new head coach Adam Gase has convinced the running back that the team's new offense will increase the workload on Miller. Can both sides come to an agreement in the next five days?