On the heels of being named MVP of Super Bowl 50, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller hit free agency in a prime position to cash-in big. Miller has not signed his $14.1 million franchise tender with Denver yet, with an obvious eye on a long-term deal, and things have gotten interesting over the last day or two.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and others have reported the Broncos offering Miller a six-year, $114.5 million deal with $39.8 million guaranteed. That deal would make him the highest paid outside linebacker in the NFL, but NFL Network’s James Palmer reported that Miller rejected the structure and the guaranteed money. That is backed up by yet another report on Thursday morning from ESPN’s Ed Werder, that Miller wants the Broncos to fully guarantee the first three years of a new deal.
There was buzz earlier in the offseason that things could get ugly in contract negotiations between Miller and the Broncos, but recent speculation has taken that to a ridiculous level. Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports has suggested that Miller could choose to sit out the entire 2016 season, which would set up a non-exclusive franchise tag next offseason and tie him to draft pick compensation.
Josh Norman had a similar situation with the Carolina Panthers this offseason, which led to him landing with the Washington Redskins. That becomes the easy reference point for Miller and the Broncos now, with the guaranteed money Ndamukong Suh (just under $60 million) and Olivier Vernon ($52.5 million) have gotten in recent free agent deals also serving as comparisons.
Getting Miller signed to a long-term deal as soon as possible would be ideal, but there is some precedent for a deal not getting done right now. The Broncos waited until the mid-July deadline to reach long-term contract extensions with both Demaryius Thomas and Ryan Clady over the last few years, and they are probably in that mode with Miller.
For the Broncos and Miller over the next month or so, the refrain of “deadlines spur action” applies. Miller could take a hard stance and sit out the entire 2016 season, if an agreeable offer still does not come, but there’s no way he effectively turns down no less than $14.1 million (under the franchise tag) and the idea that he would is absolutely ludicrous.