In the past two weeks, Miller’s situation with the Broncos transformed from pleasant to contentious, with the fearsome edge defender turning down a six-year, $114.5MM offer and threatening to hold out. There was also the deep-cutting Instagram cropping out of John Elway from a White House photo taken earlier this month.
The Miller camp being fine with the total value of the deal pushes guaranteed money to the forefront of negotiations that figure to pick up again as the July 15 deadline looms. The Broncos, though, could have several reasons for offering Miller less than $40MM in fully guaranteed money, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out.
The team fearing a Miller tailspin either in the form of a return of the substance-abuse issues that plagued him in 2013 — his only non-Pro Bowl season, one that included a six-game suspension — or in the form of an immense dip in production a la Albert Haynesworth with the 2009 Redskins. The latter seems particularly unlikely given Miller’s five-year sample size for the team with which he’s negotiating.
Florio also writes that Miller is not seeking to dwarf Ndamukong Suh‘s $59.5MM in full guarantees at signing, but rather to have as much as $70MM in guarantees to vest by March 2017 instead of March 2018. Denver would then be required to fund the remaining guaranteed money that didn’t come as fully guaranteed dollars upon signing by then. The Eagles gave Fletcher Cox $63MM in guarantees, with $55MM+ of that amount becoming fully guaranteed by March of 2017. With Cox making one Pro Bowl and no All-Pro first teams compared to Miller’s four and two such achievements, Florio notes a $70MM guarantee vesting by next March is a plausible request for the 27-year-old pass-rusher.
Here’s more on the Broncos and the AFC West.
- Elway’s been able to deftly navigate delicate situations during his Broncos GM tenure, from cutting Peyton Manning‘s pay to jettisoning Elvis Dumervil after a fax machine foul-up and trading Tim Tebow. But Miller’s status in the game after his Super Bowl MVP performance and five-sack playoffs could loom as a bigger hurdle than both given how important Elway’s first Broncos draft pick is to the team’s success, Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post writes.
- The fourth option to start at tackle for the Broncos in 2015 but a player who ended up being the Super Bowl champions’ primary right tackle as a result of injuries to Ryan Clady and Ty Sambrailo, Michael Schofield did not put together consistent film in his second season as a pro. The Broncos brought in Donald Stephenson to take his spot despite Stephenson delivering unspectacular production with the Chiefs, but Schofield’s added weight in the offseason to help his cause, Mike Klis of 9News reports. He’s up to close to 310 pounds now after playing at under 300 in 2015. Out of 77 tackles assigned grades as full-time performers in 2015 by Pro Football Focus, the 2014 third-round pick ranked 66th. Although Schofield lined up exclusively at left tackle in minicamp due to Russell Okung‘s absence, he’ll likely return to his role of swing backup given Denver’s three-year, $14MM commitment to Stephenson — who actually rated 69th on PFF’s list last season. Denver, though, believes the 2012 third-round Chiefs pick will be better as a zone-blocker than he was in Kansas City’s power-blocking scheme.
- After Brandon Marshall became the first non-rush linebacker to sign an extension in Denver since Joe Mays in 2012, we also heard Emmanuel Sanders will be the next Denver cog extended.