Posted on June 8, 2016 by Brian Neal
The Denver Broncos and star pass rusher Von Miller are still struggling to find a long-term agreement. After being hit with the franchise tag earlier this offseason — which guarantees him a $14 million salary in 2016 — both sides have been far apart in talks. Unbelievably, that rings true after a $114 million offer by the Broncos that would have made him tied for the richest defensive player in the NFL with Ndamukong Suh.
Yes, Miller’s quest to be the richest player on that side of the ball is still alive and well; being tied for that title isn’t good enough.
No, it would appear that the five-year veteran wants to be paid like the best quarterbacks in the game today, who are all getting $120 million with around half of that guaranteed. But is he worth that kind of money?
In five seasons, Miller has racked up 260 tackles, 60 sacks, 17 forced fumbles, 10 pass deflections and an interception. Those are gaudy numbers for a 34 outside linebacker, and is actually on a track similar to that of Lawrence Taylor, believe it or not. Taylor had 61.5 sacks in the first five seasons of his career in which sacks were recorded (quarterback takedowns were not recorded until Taylor’s second year in the NFL). That’s impressive company.
Don’t forget too, that Miller was the Super Bowl MVP just a few months ago, when the Broncos topped the Carolina Panthers. He had six tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass deflection, and this was against Cam Newton, who was the regular-season MVP. He was a monster, and that only added to his case to reach level of pay.
But Denver isn’t giving in easily. The Broncos’ front office is well aware that they can slap the tag on him next offseason and even the one after that. At that point, though, Miller would be making well over $20 million for one season.
What’s even more curious, perhaps, is that the Broncos were willing to let Brock Osweiler leave without a nice contract after grooming him for four years. Instead, Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans on a five-year, $72 million deal. With that money left on the table in Denver, it was seemingly the perfect opportunity to lock up Miller and indeed make him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history. So why hasn’t that happened yet?
Maybe the Broncos are looking at some recent deals and seeing the lack of production that’s occurring. Suh just had maybe the worst year of his career in 2015, the same year the Miami Dolphins made him the wealthiest lineman in the league. He was absolutely brutal in comparison to what he was earning, and if that doesn’t change soon, this Suh deal could be as awful as the Albert Haynesworth deal a handful of years ago that the Washington Redskins undoubtedly regret. Even Mario Williams, who was having a few good years with the Buffalo Bills, took a major step back last season and was cut loose (though, that may have been due to the new head coach and age).
That’s not always the case, though, especially with players who are re-signed, rather than signing massive deals with new teams. J.J. Watt, Clay Matthews, Justin Houston and others have all written their John Hancock’s on some pretty hefty contracts and came back the very next season to perform at a high level once again. Who’s to say that Miller won’t do the same for Denver?
Nevertheless, it appears that Miller will play under the franchise tag this season. If he continues his stellar All-Pro play, it’s only a matter of time before he gets that massive contract, whether from Denver or someone else.