In his first appearance of the preseason, Houston Texans running back Lamar Miller took a blow to his knee and tore his ACL.
Here are 10 candidates to replace the 28-year-old Pro Bowler.
Currently a free agent, Ajayi tore his ACL and missed the second half of the 2018 season. He opened his career in 2015 with Miami and spent more than two years with the Dolphins before being traded to the Eagles. In 42 career games (23 starts), Ajayi has 562 carries for 2,516 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also has 63 catches for 419 yards and one touchdown. Any deal for Ajayi would likely be a one-year pact that allows Miller to heal and be ready for next season.
Terms: Texans sign Jay Ajayi to a one-year, $3.4 million contract.
Duke Johnson, Jr.
Perhaps the most likely situation, current Texans running back Duke Johnson, Jr. just moves up a spot on the depth chart, allowing the Texans to worry about their depth and not the starting role. Johnson has plenty of NFL experience so that shouldn’t be an issue. The Browns dealt Johnson to Houston a few weeks ago after he appeared in 16 games, starting two and picking up 201 yards on 40 carries and 429 yards and three touchdowns on 47 catches. He has yet to be inactive for a regular season game since he was drafted in 2015. Johnson is due $15.6 million over the next three years.
A trade for disgruntled Chargers running back Melvin Gordon would be a massive blockbuster, but that’s not unheard of. As the summer winds down, Gordon still does not have the new contract he wanted and is expected to hold out. Houston has lots of cap space, so landing Gordon and paying him what he wants isn’t out of the question. Gordon, 26, started 12 games last season while missing four due to injury. He still found a way to rush for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns while catching 50 passes for 490 yards and four more touchdowns.
Terms: Texans acquire Melvin Gordon from the Chargers for a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick and sign him to a four-year, $51.5 million contract (beginning 2020) with a $14 million team option for 2024.
Before trading for Johnson, the Texans waived Foreman, who was soon claimed off waivers by the Colts. Foreman later found himself on the injured reserve, but was eventually released minutes before Miller’s injury. The two sides reuniting seems like a good match, but that’s assuming there’s no bad blood between the team and Foreman. In 2018, the former third-rounder appeared in just one game, catching two passes for 28 yards and a touchdown while rushing seven times for negative yards before suffering a season-ending injury. Any deal with Foreman would likely pencil him in as a borderline No. 2 back, with Johnson getting the lead duties.
Terms: Texans sign D’Onta Foreman to a one-year, $675,000 contract.
In another potential trade, the Texans could land Le’Sean McCoy from the Bills. Buffalo currently has McCoy as their starter with ageless wonder Frank Gore as the No. 2 and rookie Devin Singletary in a close third-string role. With Singletary a few steps from becoming the No. 2 back and McCoy’s future replacement at starter, why not speed things up and help build the Bills’ roster while giving the Texans a solid starter? In 14 games (13 starts) last year, McCoy had 161 carries for 514 yards and three touchdowns while hauling in 34 passes for 238 yards. 2019 is McCoy’s final year under contract.
Terms: Texans acquire Le’Sean McCoy from the Bills for a conditional 2020 fifth-round pick and a conditional 2021 sixth-round pick. If McCoy is active for 12 games in 2019, the return becomes a 2020 fourth-round pick.
The final intriguing option for the Texans is Chiefs running back Carlos Hyde, the Chiefs’ current No. 2 back. Hyde has shown flashes of promise but doesn’t seem to have a real role in Kansas City behind Damien Williams and seconds away from being passed by rookie Darwin Thompson. The Chiefs have yet to put Hyde on the trade block, but that should happen soon. While Houston could wait a bit longer and see if Kansas City just releases him, it might be wiser for Houston to act fast so they can get Hyde in the system, guiding him in the offense as the team’s No. 2 running back.
Terms: Texans acquire Carlos Hyde from the Chiefs for a 2020 sixth-round pick and a conditional 2020 seventh-round pick. If Hyde is not active for the Texans for eight games, Houston rescinds the seventh-round pick.