The Mile High City is closely monitoring two situations. One, will the Denver Broncos make a blockbuster move to land a star quarterback like Deshaun Watson? And two, what will happen with Von Miller?
Miller will turn 32 in March and is coming off a season entirely lost to an ankle injury. The eight-time Pro Bowler enters a contract year with the Broncos, but the team holds an option on his contract.
What that means is, if the Broncos chose not to exercise Miller's $17.5 million team option, he would immediately be an unrestricted free agent. New Broncos GM George Paton has a decision to make here and there are several possible scenarios that could unfold, including a contract restructure and/or an extension that would minimize Miller's 2021 salary-cap hit and add new years onto the term of his deal.
The latter move would conceivably give Miller the opportunity to retire as a Bronco. However, ESPN's Dan Graziano reported that the Broncos are 'likely' to decline Miller's option.
Benjamin Allbright, a Denver insider and KOARadio host of Broncos Country Tonight, has checked his Broncos sources and refutes Graziano's claim that Paton and the team have already made a decision on Miller's contract.
"No decision has been made on Von Miller's option, no one has contacted Von's representatives or Von with any decision (because no decision has been made) and they would be first to know. Team is still trying to work through all that," Allbright tweeted Wednesday morning.
There are a few mitigating factors to the Miller situation, not the least of which is the fact that he's currently under criminal investigation by police in Parker, CO. For what, we don't know. How that resolves surely will inform Paton's decision.
As it stands, the Broncos have about a month to decide. The new league year opens on March 17.
Between now and then, perhaps there will be a resolution to Parker PD's investigation. Hopefully, it turns out to be completely unfounded. If that's how it shakes out, though, it's not the only factor Paton has to weigh.
Miller's age, relative health, cost, and recent production — which dipped in 2019 — all play a factor. Plus, the player himself obviously has 50% influence on how this shakes out.
I believe Allbright is right that Paton wants to find a way to keep Miller. But if Paton's ideal for that includes Miller taking a pay-cut or restructuring in any way, the player will have to be on board.
However, Miller has made north of $126M in the NFL, not counting endorsements, so it's possible money is not the first priority, though that would be a naive view. We know how important it was to Miller to become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history following Super Bowl 50 and he ground then-GM John Elway down to the wire before the Broncos capitulated and showed him the money.
Perhaps Miller's priorities have changed. Maybe the allure of playing his entire career in one place and retiring with the team with whom he achieved his future Hall-of-Fame success rises to the top.
I'm a little too cynical to believe that. Players play for a reason. They want to get paid.
But you know what they say. It takes two to tango.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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