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Bears' free-agent watch: Breakout year for Zach Miller

Zach Miller deserves a pay bump after last season but is unlikely to get a long-term deal from Chicago. Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports

Here is the 12th in an 18-part series examining the Chicago Bears' unrestricted free agents.

Name: Zach Miller

Position: Tight end

Age: 31

NFL experience: Six years

2015 salary: $660,000

2015 key statistics: 34 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games (14 starts).

Probability to return: High

Outlook: Healthy for virtually the first time since 2010, Miller emerged as a key playmaker on offense last year. All five of Miller’s touchdowns occurred in the final eight games he played. His 87-yard touchdown reception in Game 9 at St. Louis is the second-longest reception ever by a Bears tight end and tied for the seventh-longest overall in franchise history. Miller also made one of the top plays of the season when he hauled in a game-winning 25-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter at San Diego.

"The safety flew over the top, and it was just a matter of waiting for Zach to get past the linebacker," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said of the play. “I left it high on him, and he made a heck of a catch. It couldn't have happened to a better guy. For him to come up with a catch, it was something special."

It would be an upset if Miller leaves Chicago. Miller has said on multiple occasions that he wants to return to the Bears. Cutler clearly likes him, and Miller is genuinely one of the nicest guys in the locker room. Plus, Martellus Bennett may be on his way out of town. Miller is the logical choice to assume a larger role on offense if Bennett is traded or released. Miller deserves a pay bump after last season, but Chicago is probably only interested in offering around a two-year deal. Still, Miller is a good story given the injury history. And the Bears seem much better off with him than without him moving forward.