As unfortunate as it is to likely lose Miller for a game or two, the news has been increasingly optimistic in Buffalo. Initial fears of an ACL tear were downgraded to a knee sprain. Even now, Miller is reportedly remaining optimistic about the eventual reevaluation, boosted by the assurance that he’s been in this situation before, when an ankle injury sidelined him for the entire 2020 season.
The Bills’ tremendous pass-rushing group has been hampered lately with injuries. Last year’s first-round pick out of Miami, Gregory Rousseau, has missed the team’s last three games and A.J. Epenesa was out for the Turkey Day matchup with the Lions. Buffalo still has two extremely capable edge pass rushers in Boogie Basham and Shaq Lawson but losing the team’s top three sack-leaders is never going to be an ideal scenario.
Buffalo is staying calm and remaining optimistic. They’ll have a second straight Thursday game this week in New England and will have a 10-day rest period before hosting two straight home games. Knowing that Miller won’t travel for the next three weeks is ideal. They’ll gauge the damage again after their road trip to the Patriots and have a full week to determine next steps.
November 25th, 2022 at 11:05am CST by Sam Robinson
Some good news emerged on the Von Miller front Friday morning, though this situation remains murky. The standout Bills pass rusher avoided an ACL tear, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter) and has a chance to return this season.
However, more tests are coming to determine how much time he will miss. Concern remains regarding the meniscus in Miller’s injured knee, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. At some point, a surgery will take place, Rapoport adds. But it is uncertain if Miller will go under the knife soon or in the offseason. The timetable here will obviously have a major impact on Buffalo’s pass rush the rest of the way.
Miller is not expected to make any decisions for a week or two, per Schefter, who adds he is not a lock to return this season (Twitter link). This December decision — have surgery or keep going, likely with a brace — promises to be a seminal moment for the Bills, who have run into a spate of injuries in recent weeks.
Thursday’s injury led to the future Hall of Famer being transported off the Ford Field turf via cart, though Sal Capaccio of WGR 550 notes Miller did not exit the locker room needing crutches or any assistance (Twitter link). Initially, a knee sprain surfaced as a rumored diagnosis. Miller, 33, is expected to miss time. Sean McDermott said Friday that Miller will miss the Bills’ Week 13 game against the Patriots.
This could be a brutal blow for Buffalo, but Miller dodging an ACL tear — an injury that would have shut him down until at least training camp — represents good news for the Super Bowl-contending team.
Miller has a history of major knee trouble, but that came nine years ago. In December 2013, Miller suffered a torn ACL. This injury is to the same knee. That capped a turbulent year for the then-Broncos pass rusher, who began the season serving a six-game substance-abuse ban. Miller, however, returned to top form quickly and put himself on track for Canton beginning in 2014. The former No. 2 overall pick made the Pro Bowl in 2014 — a 14-sack season — and was invited to five more Pro Bowls from 2015-19. While a severe ankle injury prevented Miller from playing in 2020, he returned to form again after a midseason trade to the Rams last year.
Following Miller’s boost to the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI cause, the Bills convinced him to make the rare (for high-profile free agents) trek to western New York in March. Buffalo’s Super Bowl quest played into the eight-time Pro Bowler’s decision. Despite a reduced workload (61% defensive snap rate) compared to the full-time roles he played in Denver and Los Angeles, Miller has already racked up eight sacks and made an impact on the Bills’ younger pass rushers. The Bills being without this era’s best edge rusher the rest of the way would certainly will impact their Super Bowl aspirations. If Miller does return, gauging his post-injury form will be important.
Buffalo has played without second-year edge Greg Rousseau recently, though the 2021 first-round pick is not on IR. The team was also without Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Poyer against Detroit. The team did get top cornerback Tre’Davious White back in Week 12 and saw Kaiir Elam return after missing two games. Micah Hyde is on IR with a neck injury and is not expected to return this season.
On a day when the Bills welcomed back one of their top defensive players, another exited the contest early. Von Millerwas carted off the field late in the second quarter, leaving Buffalo without their top pass rusher.
The Bills immediately ruled Miller out for the remainder of their Thanksgiving tilt against the Lions, leading to widespread speculation that a major injury had occurred. The initial diagnosis appears to be more positive, however. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the team believes Miller suffered a knee sprain, with more tests to come tomorrow (Twitter link).
While that news is relatively positive, Rapoport adds that a far more serious diagnosis could be coming in the near future. In a follow-up, he notes that Miller will miss some time in 2022; the important matter will now become how much. A torn ACL or similar ailment would end his season, and put a significant dent in Buffalo’s Super Bowl aspirations given his effectiveness during his debut season as a Bill.
Miller entered today’s game in a tie for 10th in the league in sacks this season (8.0). That has represented a good return on investment for Buffalo, who inked the future Hall of Famer to a six-year, $120MM deal in free agency. He has led a Bills pass rush group which ranks mid-pack in sacks, but has helped the team’s defense allow the fifth-fewest points per game (17.4) in 2022.
Buffalo’s front seven was already without Gregory Rousseauand A.J. Epenesa for today’s game, so their edge rush will be particularly shorthanded for the remainder of the contest. Concern will linger well beyond the immediate future in Miller’s case, though, at least until more is know about the extent of his injury.
On a more positive note, the preseason Super Bowl favorites saw No. 1 corner Tre’Davious Whitemake his return this afternoon. The two-time Pro Bowler had been sidelined while recovering from a torn ACL; while his snap count against Detroit will likely be limited, he will provide a significant boost to Buffalo’s secondary when he resumes a full-time starting role. A return to his top form could be especially needed if Miller misses extended time.
September 15th, 2022 at 4:22pm CST by Sam Robinson
Being Von Miller‘s hometown team, the Cowboys had a recruiting advantage this offseason. Miller expressed interest in returning to the Broncos, but when that did not happen, he opened the door to a hometown discount with the Cowboys. Dallas’ offer was believed to be the same one it proposed now-Denver-stationed Randy Gregory — five years, $70MM. Miller moved on, choosing the Bills’ three guaranteed years ahead of Rams proposal that would have paid him more in the short term. After Gregory spurned the Cowboys, they opted for a thriftier trip through the pass-rushing market.
“Von Miller is a great football player,” Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams. “I mean, you see them play at that level and especially this early there is a lot of school of thought on older guys like that that when you really get those guys are for more so for the playoffs than it is for the first part, middle of the season. Now, granted, I’m sure there was a little bit of motivation for Von playing for the Rams and winning a Super Bowl to go out there and showcase what he’s all about.
“There is a lot of players that if there was unlimited cap space that you could do things, but that wasn’t a short-term, one-year deal. It was a long-term deal, and we had to not only look at what we’re doing this year but look at what is going to be coming at us here in a year or two. Just made a conscientious decision there that we wanted to go with the direction that we went.”
The Eagles created some cap space this week. They restructured Isaac Seumalo‘s contract, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). A $4.62MM chunk of Seumalo’s base salary is now a signing bonus, opening up $3.69MM in cap room. The Eagles now hold nearly $11MM in space, a total that sits sixth in the league. This is Seumalo’s contract year, though four void years are on the deal as well now. The team not doing another deal with the starting guard by the start of the 2023 league year would create a $7.53MM dead-money charge.
Second-year Giants cornerback Aaron Robinson will be out for Week 2 due to an appendix removal, Brian Daboll said (via the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz). This likely will be a multigame absence for the first-year starter, Schwartz adds. Robinson, a 2021 third-round pick, played every Giants defensive snap opposite Adoree’ Jackson in Week 1. This depletes an already-thin position group for the Giants, who cut James Bradberry months ago. The team did draft slot option Cor’Dale Flott in Round 3, claimed ex-Steelers third-rounder Justin Layne via waivers and added ex-Washington and Atlanta starter Fabian Moreau to its practice squad. Of the three, Moreau is by far the most experienced option.
The Cowboys will be without one of their starting safeties for a while. Jayron Kearse sustained an MCL sprain in Week 1, per Jerry Jones (via ESPN.com’s Todd Archer, on Twitter). Kearse, who impressed as a Cowboys starter last year, re-signed with the team for two years and $10MM this offseason. He is expected to be out between two and four weeks. The Cowboys had a rough Week 1 on the injury front, losing Dak Prescott and Connor McGovernas well. Malik Hooker figures to step into the starting lineup alongside Donovan Wilson.
September 12th, 2022 at 4:58pm CST by Sam Robinson
Von Miller started off his Bills tenure well, notching two sacks against the Rams and spearheading Buffalo’s seven-sack night. Miller chose the Bills over the Rams and Cowboys in free agency, but the rumors connecting the future Hall of Famer and the defending Super Bowl champions nearly moved the Bills in another direction.
The consensus belief Miller would stay in L.A. led to the Bills-Jones connection, per Rodrigue, who adds the Rams expected to retain Miller as well. The Bills became aware of a contract matter that ended up altering the Miller sweepstakes. Learning of the Rams’ proposal containing two guaranteed years, the Bills made the rare move of including a third guaranteed year. Miller said this summer that ended up pushing him to Buffalo.
A loose Jones-Bills connection emerged ahead of free agency, though several other teams were interested. Once the legal tampering period began, however, the Raiders loomed for Jones. The former Patriots and Cardinals defender signed a three-year, $52.5MM accord hours before the 2022 league year began. Miller’s Bills pact became finalized hours later.
Jones, 32, is a year younger than Miller. But the two-time All-Pro appeared to be Buffalo’s backup plan here. The Bills had pursued a Miller trade before the 2021 season, though they were not connected to calling the Broncos on him before the in-season Rams swap. The Cardinals, who had Jones winding down his 2017 extension, and Cowboys were believed to be the Broncos’ other options there. Miller is signed through the 2027 season; he has said he will aim to play out the contract.
Von Miller chose the Bills in free agency, signing a six-year deal worth $120MM. The contract included $45MM guaranteed at signing and $51.4MM in total guarantees. The Bills needed to come in with an offer that lured Miller away from Los Angeles and kept him out of Dallas. Both the Cowboys and Rams made strong runs at the future Hall of Fame edge rusher.
Placing a “90%” expectation on the likelihood he would re-sign with the Rams, Miller broke down (via The Athletic’s Dan Pompei; subscription required) the difference in the Rams’ and Cowboys’ offers compared to the one that convinced him to move to Buffalo.
Miller’s Bills contract hit $20MM per year, but a nonguaranteed $29.6MM base salary in the contract’s final season inflated the overall value and per-year salary. The Rams offered Miller a three-year deal he said included a higher through-2024 AAV compared to the Bills’ proposal, but the 12th-year veteran added Los Angeles was only willing to include guarantees through two years. The Bills pushing guaranteed money into Year 3 — Miller’s age-35 season — persuaded the perennial Pro Bowler to make an unexpected move east.
After seeing Randy Gregoryrenege on their offer, the Cowboys did focus on Miller, a Dallas-area native. They offered Miller the same five-year, $70MM deal Gregory had turned down — due to language tied to guarantee voiding. That proposal came with two years guaranteed, Pompei notes. Miller’s Bills deal includes the fifth-most fully guaranteed money among edge rushers. Gregory’s Broncos pact (also five years and $70MM) ranks 24th on that list, with $28MM fully guaranteed.
“I told them I was ready to come to the Cowboys,” Miller said. “I would have taken less to go to Dallas because it’s Dallas. But I wouldn’t take that much less.”
The third team Miller was interesting in joining (again) did not show interest. He of eight Pro Bowls as a Bronco, Miller was frequently asked to stump for whatever quarterback the team acquired that offseason. While the Rams were still in the playoffs, Miller sent word to the Broncos that a trade for Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson would put him on board to come back. Miller then teased a Denver return on social media in the offseason. The Broncos had traded Miller to the Rams at last year’s deadline, for second- and third-round picks that became beneficial in the team’s subsequent Wilson acquisition, but Pompei adds Miller’s original team did not contact him during free agency.
Gregory, 29, joined the Broncos, who drafted Nik Bonitto in Round 2. The team also stands to return ex-Miller wingman Bradley Chubb and fill-in starter Malik Reed, along with other George Paton-era draftees, at outside linebacker. In Buffalo, Miller will lead an edge-rushing contingent housing recent first- and second-round picks Gregory Rousseau, Boogie Basham and A.J. Epenesa. The Bills also brought back Shaq Lawson this offseason.
The Bills submitted their offer after a Miller visit, one that Pompei adds included the former No. 2 overall pick nearly backing out. Miller nearly told Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane on the visit — a meeting kept quiet — he would not sign with the Bills, but after meeting with the team’s coaching staff and discussing his potential role with Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, the marquee free agent reconsidered. The end result marked one of the biggest signings in Bills history.
Few modern-era NFL players sign six-year contracts. Almost none play out those deals. Von Miller became a major exception, signing a then-defender-record contract in 2016 and playing it out.
Miller, 33, made four straight Pro Bowls on his six-year, $114.1MM extension, anchoring several Broncos defenses held down by the franchise’s perennial issues at quarterback. Following a full-season absence in 2020, Miller returned to form last season by helping the Rams to their second Super Bowl title. This led to a strong free agent market, one that wrapped with the Bills giving the future Hall of Famer a six-year, $120MM accord.
The Buffalo deal includes $45MM fully guaranteed but features no guaranteed money after 2024. It also includes a considerable final-year pay bump to bring the AAV to $20MM. But Miller, rather than identifying a retirement window during this lengthy contract, wants to be with the Bills over the duration of the through-2027 deal.
“This is a six-year deal, so I’m looking forward to playing the whole thing,” Miller said, via the Buffalo News’ Mark Gaughan. “I’m trying to play the whole thing out. Tom Brady‘s done it; Bruce Smith has done it. All the guys that I look up to when it comes to longevity in careers. So I just take it one day at a time, and I’m just gonna take whatever God gives me. My intention is to play the whole thing out. I’m a real sicko when you get to know me. My mindset is different.”
This is not the first time Miller has referenced Smith, nor is it the first time he has discussed playing well into his late 30s. The All-Decade defender worked as a vital part of the Rams’ Super Bowl push, registering nine sacks in the team’s final eight games — including two in Super Bowl LVI. The Bills beat out aggressive Rams interest for the star edge rusher’s services, bringing in the Broncos’ all-time sack leader to add an anchor to a pass rush that has lacked one for years.
Although only Mario Addison collected six or more sacks at 33 or older last season, there have been 71 double-digit sack seasons since 1960 (though sacks are only official post-1982). Hall of Famers Smith, Reggie White and Kevin Greene are among those to remain prolific sackers into their late 30s, while Julius Peppers provides a recent example of such production (48 sacks from his age-33 season on). Miller ranks 22nd on the NFL’s official all-time sack list, with 115.5. The former Super Bowl MVP is 22 away from the top 10. Miller has 10.5 sacks in the playoffs (12th in the sack era). Willie McGinest‘s 16 are the most by sack-era players. The Bills are obviously hoping their hired gun will add a few more to that total in the coming years.
It remains unlikely Miller will play out another six-year deal. The Bills should be expected to move on at some point in the mid-2020s. If Miller does thrive for a few years on this pact, the sides reaching another deal would likely be in play.
Since George Paton took over as Broncos GM last year, the team traded the previous regime’s highest-profile player and now has a new one. Both transactions came via blockbuster trades, with the capital acquired from the first helping the Broncos pull off the second.
Denver dealt Von Miller to Los Angeles for second- and third-round 2022 picks. That ended up being a win-win-win deal, with the Rams claiming a Super Bowl title, the Broncos having enough draft picks to feel comfortable parting with a big haul for Russell Wilson, and Miller’s post-trade rebound enticing the Bills to submit a strong free agency offer. The Broncos’ years-long quarterback issue hovered at the root of the Miller trade.
“I love Von, but we knew we weren’t good enough with Von to get to where we needed to go at that point,” Paton said via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue (subscription required). “I knew in the next year or two we needed to get a quarterback. We needed to break through, [be it] trading up in the draft or via trade; free agency, you’re probably not going to get your franchise guy. So we were just going to keep accumulating picks until we got a quarterback. It’s hard to win if you don’t get that guy.”
Paton successfully filled one of the NFL’s longest-standing needs by acquiring Wilson for a package that included three players, two first-round picks, two second-rounders and a fifth. The Miller trade, however, leaves the Broncos with three Day 2 picks this year. Without first-rounders this year and next, the second day of this year’s draft figures to be quite important for a Denver team that will have a franchise-quarterback salary on its books in the not-too-distant future.
Denver, which had started 11 quarterbacks since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, has not carried a notable QB salary on its books since Joe Flacco‘s in 2019. Wilson is set to count just $24MM against the Broncos’ cap this season. While an extension is fully expected to commence by the 2023 season, it is not yet certain a new deal will be in place this year.
“You build a different way,” Paton said of how the Broncos will need to construct future rosters. “You aren’t going to go on a spending splurge every free agency; you just can’t. The model doesn’t work like that. We realize — we had all of these talks about how, three years down the road, how this impacts us.
“Do we have to hit on picks? Yeah. Everyone has to hit on their picks. But the stakes are higher. You gotta hit on the sixth-rounder, the seventh-round safety or else the model doesn’t work. We embrace the challenge just as we embrace the opportunity to have a guy like Russ.”
Before the Bills swooped in with an awe-inspiring contract, the Rams expected to re-sign Von Miller. According to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic, the Rams were flexible with the AAV of Miller’s deal and were generally offering around $14MM to $16MM per season.
The Rams “reiterated their commitment” to the linebacker during negotiations, while Miller made it a priority to work things out with the Super Bowl-winning organization. Of course, the money had to be right, but Rodrigue writes that the Rams were confident in their offer. However, the Bills emerged with a big-money offer that was ultimately too good to refuse.
Rodrigue also notes that Miller’s departure will ultimately net the organization a compensation pick, but because of the player’s tenure in the NFL, the organization can’t expect higher than a fifth-round selection.
More notes out of the NFC West…
Rashaad Penny told the media that it was a “no brainer” to re-sign with the Seahawks (per Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times on Twitter). The running back also confirmed that he turned down offers for more money in order to stay in Seattle. The former first-round pick inked a one-year, $5.75MM deal to stick with the Seahawks. This past season, Penny totaled 797 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns.
PeteCarroll seems to have some optimism for quarterback Drew Lock, telling reporters that the Seahawks are “focused on the things Drew Lock did well in Denver and not the times he struggled,” with the coach adding that “we think we see something that could be really special” (per Condotta on Twitter).
While the organization isn’t necessarily counting on Lock, the organization has high hopes for the QB. “We’ll continue to explore options,” said GM John Schneider (via ESPN’s Brady Henderson), “but we have a ton of faith in Drew. We’re excited about it. We’re excited about a change of scenery for him. I know a couple of my buddies were trying to acquire him all last spring and into the fall. He’s a guy that, in my opinion, the media has beat down a little bit. We’re excited to get him into our culture with our coaching staff, and we’ll continue to look for guys to compete with him.”
Jimmy Garoppolo‘s shoulder surgery earlier this month went “as expected,” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). With the shoulder surgery taking place in early March, the 49ers are hoping the QB will be back on the field before training camp. Of course, the only question remaining is whether Garoppolo will be attending training camp with the 49ers or another team.
Here are the latest details from contracts recently agreed to across the league, starting with the Bills’ big-ticket deal for a future Hall of Fame edge rusher:
Von Miller, LB (Bills): Six years, $120MM. Miller’s deal includes $51.44MM guaranteed. The Bills will keep Miller’s early base salaries low; he is tied to $1.1MM (2022) and $1.3MM (’23) salaries, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com tweets. Miller has a $13.34MM roster bonus due in 2023, and Albert Breer of SI.com tweets his deal includes $50MM over the first two years. His $17.1MM, $19.6MM and $29.6MM salaries from 2025-27 are nonguaranteed.
Allen Robinson, WR (Rams): Three years, $46.5MM. Robinson is attached to guaranteed base salaries of $1.5MM and $10MM in 2022 and ’23, respectively, per Wilson (on Twitter). The contract includes a $5.75MM roster bonus on Day 5 of the 2024 league year. If Robinson surpasses 2,200 receiving yards in the regular season and playoffs during the 2022 or ’23 seasons, Wilson adds his 2024 year will void (Twitter link). Only Cooper Kupp has accomplished that feat in a season.
Haason Reddick, DE (Eagles): Three years, $45MM. Reddick, who is guaranteed $30MM, is tethered to base salaries of just $1MM and $1.1MM in 2022 and 2023, per Wilson (on Twitter). His $13.75MM 2024 salary is nonguaranteed. The Eagles tacked three void years onto the deal for cap purposes. Reddick will collect a $13.7MM roster bonus in 2023.
Ryan Jensen, C (Buccaneers): Three years, $39MM. Jensen’s deal includes $26.5MM guaranteed. The Bucs center is tied to a $1.5MM base salary in 2022 and a $12.5MM base in 2023, Wilson tweets. Jensen’s 2023 salary is partially guaranteed at signing; it will become fully guaranteed if he is on Tampa Bay’s roster by Day 5 of the 2023 league year. A $1.5MM 2024 roster bonus resides in this deal as well. The Bucs included two void years here for cap purposes.
La’el Collins, T (Bengals): Three years, $30MM. The contract is closer to a two-year, $20MM pact, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with Year 3 being included for cap purposes (Twitter link). It appears Cincinnati has dipped into the void-year realm, though is not clear just yet how this contract is structured.
Marcus Mariota, QB (Falcons): Two years, $18.75MM. This deal veers closer to a one-year pact. Mariota is due $6.75MM in 2022, but NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero notes (on Twitter) a $12MM 2023 option is included in this contract. A key point for Mariota’s Atlanta future will arrive on Day 5 of the 2023 league year, when a $3MM roster bonus is due.
Andrew Norwell, G (Commanders): Two years, $10MM. Norwell will collect $5.7MM guaranteed, Wilson tweets. He is set to earn $1.2MM and $3.54MM in base salary, with Wilson adding Washington added three void years onto this deal.