Zach Miller

WATCH: Zach Miller throws out the first pitch at Cubs game

WATCH: Zach Miller throws out the first pitch at Cubs game

It's been quite a week for Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller. He signed a one-year deal to return to the team on Monday, and two days later, he threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field before the Cubs vs. Phillies contest.

Miller's contract with the Bears received universal praise across the NFL. His football career appeared to be over after suffering a gruesome leg injury in Week 8 against the Saints last season. The injury was so severe it almost cost him his leg. Nine surgeries later, Miller is slowly returning to form.

While it's unlikely he'll ever play football again, the contract -- which will pay him at least $458,000 this season -- allows Miller to continue his recovery with the Bears' training staff. It's a feel-good story that will resonate all season long.

Zach Miller grateful for contract with Bears: 'I don’t think that would have happened throughout the league'

Zach Miller grateful for contract with Bears: 'I don’t think that would have happened throughout the league'

The last time Zach Miller had a press conference, he had to use crutches to gingerly make his way onto the platform on which the podium stands in the Halas Hall media room. On Tuesday, Miller walked normally to the podium, and quipped to the crowd of media assembled: “You guys can’t get rid of me, huh?”

Miller has been around Halas Hall during the Bears’ offseason program, but was guaranteed a place in the building to continue his rehab after signing a one-year contract worth the league’s veteran minimum on Monday (he was placed on the reserve PUP list on Tuesday in a procedural move). Getting to continue to use the team’s facilities and work with the team’s doctors and training staff is the “biggest part” of his contract, Miller said. 

And that contract was a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed, with former center Olin Kreutz tweeting “this is what winning looks like” and defensive end Akiem Hicks saying that he’s happy to be “a part of an organization that will take care of its players.”

But more than anything, Miller is grateful for George McCaskey, Ryan Pace and the organization for doing something they didn’t have to do. 

“That’s a testament to the entire organization and the McCaskey family,” Miller said. “I think you guys all know that the NFL is a big business. It’s a little different here. When you talk about business and football, this thing is really a family. I don’t think that would have happened throughout the league.”
It would seem unlikely Miller ever plays football again after he suffered a gruesome leg injury back in October that nearly led to amputation and required nine surgeries. Miller isn’t jogging yet, and only recently re-gained nerve function in his injured left leg. 

Miller said he’s okay not playing football again, but isn’t ready to rule that out yet. 

“My thing is to just get as strong as I can get to get to that point,” Miller said. “I don’t want to push it. I’m not going to take it slow, at all. I’m not going to baby it. I’m going to do what I can, when I can, and push those limits, but I’m not going to rush getting back into it. I don’t think that’s a good decision. I’ll just try to make it happen as fast as I can, but we’ll have to see when that is.”

Miller isn’t just using Halas Hall to rehab, though. He’s been a presence in the Bears’ tight end room ever since he got back here last December, and said he’s getting a little taste of what it could be like to coach once he officially ends his playing career.

At the least, though, being around his teammates is giving Miller a boost to his already positive attitude. And with this contract, he’ll continue to be a presence around Halas Hall going forward. 

“This could be very difficult, you know what I mean,” Miller said “I could be away and kind of removed from what I’ve been used to for a very long time – not having that brotherhood and not having people see me every day or check in on me. That stuff matters. Having that positivity adds to my happiness. It’s for sure helps me in my recovery.”

Bears re-sign Zach Miller to one-year deal

USA Today

Bears re-sign Zach Miller to one-year deal

The Chicago Bears re-signed tight end Zach Miller to a one-year contract, as first reported by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

Miller suffered a gruesome knee injury in the Bears' Week 8 loss to the Saints last season, one that nearly cost him his leg. It's unlikely Miller will ever play again, making this an even more impressive move by general manager Ryan Pace and the Bears organization.

The contract, according to PFT, will pay Miller at least $458,000 regardless of his health.

Miller enjoyed an unexpected breakout season in 2015 when he started 14 games and scored five touchdowns. His breakout made Martellus Bennett expendable, but he struggled to stay on the field once he became the full-time starter. Injuries piled up in 2016 and limited him to only 10 games. Then came last season's likely career-ending injury.

Miller's injury overshadowed the controversial decision by the official to rule the play incomplete despite what appeared to be overwhelming evidence of a touchdown reception. The NFL modified the catch rule this offseason and confirmed Miller's last play would've been a touchdown under the new interpretation.