In a day packed with enthralling stories across the NFL, none was as important to a team’s long-term future as the Broncos’ record-setting contract agreement with all-world pass rusher Von Miller, the reigning Super Bowl MVP. After a lengthy and contentious battle over guaranteed money, the Broncos finally locked up the linebacker shortly before Friday afternoon’s contract deadline for franchise-tagged players. The defending champions inked Miller to a six-year, $114.5MM deal with $70MM in guarantees. Here’s a roundup of reactions to the accord:
- While Miller was adamant about remaining a Bronco over the long haul, his threat to sit out the season in lieu of playing under the tag was not a bluff, according to agent Joby Branion. Having avoided that scenario, Branion praised Denver’s front office, calling general manager John Elway & Co. “extraordinarily smart people.” The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and now-title-winning executive is “the ultimate competitor,” Branion added (Twitter links via Troy Renck of the Denver Post).
- Negotiations between the Broncos and Miller became serious July 7 for two reasons, writes Mike Klis of 9News: 1. The team needed to begin drawing up trade plans for Miller if if knew it wouldn’t be able to sign him by the deadline. 2. Elway had out-of-country vacation plans. Elway’s urgency led the Broncos to significantly raise their offer from $39.8MM in full guarantees over the first two years and $58MM in partial guarantees during the initial three to $42MM and $70MM, respectively. That increase was enough for Miller to sign on the dotted line and avoid a season-long holdout or a trade.
- Largely as a result of their tug of war with Miller, the Broncos have established themselves as a brutal team to negotiate with, per Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. That stubbornness is sometimes to the Broncos’ detriment and sometimes to their benefit, notes Robinson, who reports that it’s the former in this instance. The Broncos could have re-signed Miller at a lower guaranteed amount in February, multiple sources told Robinson, who argues that doing so might have enabled them to retain quarterback Brock Osweiler via the franchise tag instead of having to use it on Miller. Without the tag tying him down, Osweiler departed for Houston in free agency, leading Denver to acquire derided signal-caller Mark Sanchez and use a first-round pick on Paxton Lynch.
- With Miller under wraps, attention in Denver now turns to contract-year receiver Emmanuel Sanders, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post explains. As of last week, negotiations between the Broncos and Sanders went on the back burner while the club turned its entire focus to Miller. Sanders hopes to stay a Bronco, though, and Elway said in June that extensions for Miller, linebacker Brandon Marshall and Sanders by mid-July would be “ideal.” The only one of those three Elway hasn’t since re-upped is Sanders, so it seems like a matter of time for the 29-year-old.
- As the cap continues to rise, Miller’s new pact will eventually set the standard for Raiders superstar defensive end Khalil Mack and Rams dominant defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post contends. Mack and Donald – who, like Miller, are among the league’s premier players – are controllable under their current deals for three more seasons. The two 2014 first-round picks have 2018 fifth-year options that, barring something catastrophic, their teams will undoubtedly exercise when the time comes.