Running back Lamar Miller will hit the open market when free agency begins in earnest Wednesday, according to a source close to the player.
Miller, 24, is unsigned for 2016 and his agent Drew Rosenhaus has been talking with the Dolphins about a new contract in advance of free agency. But those talks have not produced a deal between the sides and is not expected to do so before other teams are allowed to bid on the player starting Wednesday. So the market will determine Miller's value.
This is not great for the Dolphins who are without a starting running back.
The team has expressed universal desire to have Miller back. That included head coach Adam Gase saying Miller is a good combination of runner, pass protector and pass catcher.
But that praise has not brought the Dolphins up to meeting Miller's contract demands.
Miller led the Dolphins in rushing the past three seasons. He gained 872 yards on 194 carries (4.5 yard per carry average) and scored eight TDs in 2015. He also improved his pass catching, turning in a career high 47 receptions for 397 yards and two TDs.
Miller's best season was 2014 when he gained 1,099 yards on 216 carries for a 5.1 yard per carry average and eight TDs.
Despite the numbers, the Dolphins have been unable under the previous coaching staff to find a consistent workload for Miller. He averaged only 12 carries per game in 2015, down from 13.5 in 2014. Miller wanted more carries and opportunities to touch the football but didn't say so publicly until after the season.
Obviously Miller is not the only one who will be shopping when free agency begins at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The Dolphins can also shop and may decide they want to look at available running back talent on the market.
New York Jets running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are among the group of running backs scheduled to be free agents, along with Miller. Ivory rushed for 166 yards against the Dolphins in a game in London last season.
Matt Forte, who played for Gase in Chicago and the coach loves, is also scheduled to become a free agent. So there should be at least mild interest from Miami. Forte, however, is 30 years old and that means he may no longer be viable for playing an entire 16-game season unless his workload is carefully managed.
Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,402 yards for Tampa Bay in 2015, is also scheduled to be a free agent. He wants a big payday coming off a career year. But he has history of injuries that caused him to miss significant parts of 2013-2014.
[Update: Denver just tagged restricted free agent C.J. Anderson with an original round tender. As Anderson was an undrafted free agent, that means a team can sign him to an offer sheet and, if Denver does not match, there would be no draft choice compensation. And, of course, Gase coached Anderson in Denver.]