Von Miller

Von Miller Discusses Long-Term Plans, Recovery From Ankle Injury

Von Miller‘s Pro Bowl run and dominant showing in the 2015 playoffs placed him on course to be a Hall of Famer. The Broncos’ all-time sack leader, however, hit a road block last year in the form of a severe ankle injury wiping out his entire 2020 season.

The 10-year veteran has said in the past he did not have retirement on the immediate horizon. Now 32 and coming off a major injury setback, Miller reaffirmed that stance and added some clarity to his post-injury career outlook.

I’ve got a son. He’ll be here in about three or four weeks. I definitely want him to be able to see me play. That’s going to take about five to seven years,” Miller said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “That’s what I have on my heart. That’s what I have on my mind: another five to seven years.”

Despite rumors the Broncos would force Miller to take a pay cut to return in 2021, new GM George Paton picked up his 2021 option in March. Miller is set to play out his then-record six-year, $114.1MM contract; he will make $17.5MM in base salary this season. The Broncos have not had both Miller and Bradley Chubb line up together since Week 4 of the 2019 season. Denver picked up Chubb’s fifth-year option in March, and Paton views the 2018 first-round pick as a building-block player. It is unclear where Miller fits in long-term, but he has long professed a desire to stay in Denver.

A number of edge rushers have played into their late 30s, with Julius Peppers, Terrell Suggs and Dwight Freeney establishing a modern-era foundation for such longevity. Miller, who is 8-for-8 in Pro Bowls in seasons in which he finished, returned from a December 2013 ACL tear with a 14-sack 2014 season. Without contract certainty beyond 2021, the former Super Bowl MVP enters a key season to re-establish his run as one of the league’s best pass rushers.

A dislocated peroneal tendon just before the 2020 season sidelined Miller, who underwent surgery shortly after. He participated in Denver’s offseason program and is nearly back to full strength.

I’m feeling good. My ankle is about 94%,” Miller said. “The 6% I got to get I got to get rushing the passer in practice with pads on, leaning on guys, guys leaning on me. I haven’t rushed the passer in over year. Haven’t played in a game in longer than that.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Arnette, Sowers

After missing all of the 2020 season due to a torn ankle tendon, Von Miller has been on the field for the Broncos‘ OTA sessions this week. New Broncos GM George Paton went down to the wire on picking up the All-Pro pass rusher’s 2021 option but ended up doing so. Miller is going into a contract year, having played five seasons on the then-defender-record six-year, $114.1MM deal he inked in 2016. Uncertainty about his future notwithstanding, the 32-year-old linebacker would like to stay in Denver on another contract.

I always had an internal faith that I would be here. I said a long time ago that I want to be a Bronco for life. I always felt like that even though the business and all of this stuff,” Miller said, via DenverBroncos.com’s Aric DiLalla.

This will be a pivotal year for the Broncos’ all-time sack leader, considering a possible free agency bid looms in 2022. Miller has said he plans to play several more seasons. He and Bradley Chubb have not worked together for a lengthy stretch since 2018, but the duo will obviously be counted on to spearhead a talented defense. Here is more from Denver and the latest from the rest of the AFC West:

  • Chubb recently underwent an ankle procedure that is expected to sideline him until training camp. Vic Fangio said the team thought the injury, which shelved Chubb for last season’s final two games, would heal without surgery. The third-year Broncos HC also indicated bone spurs bothered Chubb, leading to the surgery, and that doctors believed Chubb would be sidelined until mid-August. Evidently, he is set to beat that timetable and return by the start of camp. The Broncos recently picked up the outside linebacker’s fifth-year option, locking him down through 2022.
  • Details on the Broncos’ Bobby Massie contract are in; the pact, per usual, is a bit team-friendlier than initially reported. The reported $4MM deal is actually a one-year, $2.5MM accord, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos are guaranteeing the longtime Bears right tackle $1.58MM, Klis tweets, and the previously reported $4MM figure includes a $1.5MM incentive package. Massie and fellow May signing Cameron Fleming are set to compete for the right tackle job that became vacant after Ja’Wuan James‘ Achilles tear.
  • The Raiders might be considering shifting 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette from the outside to the slot, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Gus Bradley‘s staff watched Ohio State film in order to best position Arnette, who could shift inside if recent addition Casey Hayward commandeers a starting job outside. Injuries and COVID-19 limited Arnette to nine games as a rookie. Pro Football Focus graded him 116th out of 121 qualified corners last season.
  • Katie Sowers made history by coaching in Super Bowl LIV. After her four-year 49ers tenure ended, Sowers will join the other team that participated in that game. The Chiefs are adding Sowers to their staff, via the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Sowers confirmed the move (Instagram link). Sowers, 34, caught on with the 49ers via this program. Sowers went to college near Kansas City, receiving a master’s degree from Central Missouri.

Von Miller Wants To Be Bronco For Life

Just a few days ago, it was unclear if LB Von Miller would be playing for a team other than the Broncos in 2021. After all, he missed all of last season due to an ankle injury, and the team was hoping he would agree to a pay cut. But Miller held his ground, and the Broncos ended up exercising an option that guarantees $7MM of Miller’s $18MM salary in 2021.

Still, Miller will be due for unrestricted free agency next year, and although he made the Pro Bowl in 2019, the eight sacks he posted that season were his lowest total since a suspension-shortened 2013 campaign. So while he will remain with the only team he has ever known this year, his future beyond that remains uncertain.

If the soon-to-be 32-year-old has it his way, though, he will be with the Broncos until the day he decides to retire. “I have totally bought into being a Coloradoan for life, let alone a Denver Bronco,” Miller recently said on Instagram (via Troy Renck of Denver 7). “I want to be here forever, through the thick, the thin, the Super Bowl seasons, the losing seasons. I want to be here forever.”

Per Renck, the Broncos were unified in their desire to retain Miller, and with Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed also in the fold, Denver could trot out a rather imposing pass rush in 2021. The club’s secondary should also be in good shape, as it has added Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller in recent days to bolster a group that already included Bryce Callahan — who can now return to his familiar nickel CB role — and the recently-extended Justin Simmons.

Renck also says that Denver could approach Miller about an extension that would lower his 2021 cap hit of $22.225MM. But given the uncertainty created by his age and recent injury, it’s unclear if the two sides would be able to come to terms on a multi-year pact at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Pick Up Von Miller’s Option

The Broncos will exercise Von Miller‘s option for the 2021 season, as Mike Klis of 9News tweets. By picking up the edge rusher’s option, the Broncos will lock in $7MM of Miller’s $18MM total payout for 2021.

Broncos GM George Paton indicated that he wanted to keep Miller, though the team was hoping to negotiate a new deal at a lesser rate. Instead, Miller held his ground, so he’ll play out the final year of his six-year, $114.5MM contract.

Miller missed all of 2020 while replacement Malik Reed enjoyed a breakout year with eight sacks and 17 quarterback hits. Along with Pro Bowler Bradley Chubb (7.5 sacks, 19 QB hits), the Broncos got a preview of what their pass rush could look like without Miller. Still, Vic Fangio & Co. felt that the defense would be even better with Miller and Chubb playing alongside each other. To date, they’ve lined up together just four times. It’s also worth noting that Denver placed 13th in DVOA in the 2019 and ’20 seasons — good, but not great. With Miller healthy and back on board, the Broncos have the potential to rank much higher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: V. Miller, Henry, T. Brown

Here’s a quick roundup of some AFC West rumblings:

  • There is still no clarity on whether the Broncos will bring back LB Von Miller in 2021. As Mike Klis of 9News.com writes, new Denver GM George Paton met with Miller for the first time last week, and Klis believes a paycut is no longer on the table. Miller is due an $18MM salary in 2021, and by March 16, Paton must decide whether to pick up an option that would guarantee $7MM of that $18MM payout. While the Broncos would prefer to have Miller take a cut, given that he missed the entire 2020 season, J.J. Watt‘s new $14MM/year deal with the Cardinals suggests that Miller would be disinclined to do so. Which means that Paton has the difficult task of deciding between a major financial hit for an aging star coming off a serious injury and releasing one of the greatest defensive players in franchise history. The good news is that Miller appears to be back to full speed, at least according to a workout video he recently posted to Instagram.
  • The Chargers decided against putting the franchise tag on TE Hunter Henry, but Henry is still open to returning to the Bolts. “I will say I’m not ruling out the Chargers,” Henry recently told TMZ Sports. “I’m not ruling out the Chargers and I won’t rule out the Chargers.” Though Henry comes with some health concerns, he is also just 26 and still has the chance to be one of the league’s top receiving TEs. He also has the chance to serve as one of Justin Herbert‘s top targets for the foreseeable future — a proposition that he admits could lead him back to LA — but he will have no shortage of suitors when the legal tampering period opens tomorrow.
  • Before he was traded to the Patriots, former Raiders tackle Trent Brown was considered a release candidate. But as Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets, Vegas had no intention of cutting Brown (at least not yet). The club planned to bring him to training camp to earn his keep, but New England’s offer, along with Brown’s willingness to rework his contract, triggered the deal. Still, Brown’s hold on his roster spot in Vegas couldn’t have been very strong, as the Raiders dealt him and a 2022 seventh-rounder for a 2022 fifth-rounder.

Von Miller Will Not Face Charges

Von Miller is not certain to be back with the Broncos for an 11th season, but the veteran linebacker navigated a key issue Friday. He will not face charges in connection with an unspecified incident, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

An investigation of this incident began in January, and the Parker (Colo.) Police Department turned the case over to the D.A.’s office late last month. Neither the police nor the district attorney revealed the nature of the investigation.

After reviewing all of the materials, the District Attorney’s Office of the 18th Judicial District has determined that no charges will be filed in this case,” 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Vikki Migoya said in a statement, via Denver7’s Troy Renck. “Based on our review of information that is currently available, we cannot meet that standard and must decline to file charges in this case.”

Miller’s offseason will now transition to a Broncos decision. The team has until March 16 to pick up the future Hall of Famer’s 2021 option. Should the Broncos do so, Miller will be tethered to a $17.5MM base salary and $22.13MM cap number. But the Broncos have long been expected to ask their perennial Pro Bowl pass rusher to lower the latter number, via pay cut or possible extension.

New GM George Paton indicated Thursday he would like to have the soon-to-be 32-year-old defender back next season. Friday’s development stands to help on this front.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos GM On Von Miller, Drew Lock, Phillip Lindsay

George Paton is the Broncos’ new GM, and he’s got his work cut out for him during his first offseason at the helm. Several big decisions loom, including what to do with Von Miller and at quarterback. Speaking to the media Thursday, Paton got into all that and more.

We’ve heard that the Broncos are preparing to franchise tag safety Justin Simmons for the second year in a row, but it sounds like they really want to get an extension done. “Justin is one of our core guys. Our goal is to sign him to a long-term deal,” Paton said, via a tweet from Troy Renck of ABC Denver 7. Simmons seems to be on the same page, reiterating in a recent interview with Sirius XM NFL radio (Twitter link) that he wants to be with the Broncos for the future. “It seems like Denver wants me back, and I want to be there,” Simmons said in part.

As for Miller, he’s got an option that guarantees him significant money that needs to be picked up by March 16th. We’ve heard the team wants him to take a bit of a pay-cut to return in 2021, and Paton said that he’s still working through the details of the option with his agent. “We want to bring Von back. Obviously the legal process, it’s a serious situation. I don’t know all the details. But respect what’s going on. But we do want Von back.” Paton was referring of course to the legal investigation that stems from allegations made by his ex-fiancee. Even with that looming, it sounds like Paton wants to keep the franchise icon in the fold if the financials can work.

Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent since he’s a former UDFA, and Paton said the team wants him back as well. “Phillip’s a good player, very passionate. Obviously had some injuries last year. He’s a good player, brings energy, brings juice. He’s a restricted free agent, we do plan on tendering him. I’m not sure what level but we want Phillip here,” he said, via Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Klis writes that fellow restricted free agent receiver Tim Patrick is expected to get a second-round tender from the Broncos. That would pay him around $3.4MM in 2021. Patrick is coming off a career year where he had 746 yards and six touchdowns. If the team decides $3.4MM is too steep for Lindsay as a split-time running back, they’d tender him at the original-round level, which would mean a team signing him to an offer sheet wouldn’t have to give up any draft pick.

Finally, Paton also talked about the elephant in the room, Drew Lock and his job security. “Obviously did a deep dive with Drew. Very talented, was inconsistent at times. Has a lot to work on. I’ve spoken with Drew, he’s here every day. He’s here early. He really wants to be great,” Paton said, before adding we’re always going to try and bring in competition at every position and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew is on,” Klis tweets.

Those certainly don’t sound like the words of someone who’s committed to Lock as his 2021 starter. Things are up in the air, but we should continue to expect Denver to sniff around potential upgrades while having Lock as the fall-back option if nothing falls into their laps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Likely To Sign Pass Rusher In Free Agency

The Browns remain in the mix to sign veteran defensive end J.J. Watt, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes. We heard earlier this week that Cleveland is a legitimate suitor for Watt, and the former Texans star remains intrigued by what the Browns have to offer.

Watt has earned over $100MM from his playing career alone, and he has made it clear that he wants to sign with a team that has a strong quarterback and a legitimate chance of winning a title. However, Cabot says Watt also wants to get paid, and the Browns have just under $30MM in cap room at the moment thanks to a league-leading $30.4MM in rollover space. So from a financial perspective, Cleveland is better positioned than any other club in the Watt sweepstakes.

In addition to the financial and competitiveness considerations, Watt also wants to go to a team that already boasts a talented defensive front. That is perhaps because he was double-teamed more than any other player in 2020, which certainly contributed to his modest five-sack total. Despite that, he graded out as the seventh-best edge player in the league per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, and with Myles Garrett wreaking havoc and attracting his own double-teams on the opposite side of the line, Watt would have a real chance to put up some of the gaudy raw stats that he enjoyed earlier in his career.

But the Watt race is far from over, and even if the Browns are unable to land him, Cabot says that the club is expected to make a major addition to its pass rushing contingent in free agency. They could draft a pass rusher as well, but Cabot expects the Browns to have serious interest in all of the QB hunters who might hit the open market.

That includes Von Miller, who may be released by the Broncos. Miller is not going to be back in Denver at his current base salary of $17.5MM, and if he and the Broncos cannot agree to a reworked deal, he could be on his way out. One of the most prolific pass rushers of the past decade, Miller is four days younger than Watt, and though he missed the entire 2020 campaign due to an ankle injury, he has generally been more durable than his fellow 2011 first-rounder. Spotrac currently pegs Miller as a $10MM/year player, and if the Browns can get him on a contract with a $10MM AAV, they might jump at the chance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Von Miller, Broncos

The only non-specialist remaining from the Broncos’ Super Bowl-winning team, Von Miller is going into a contract year and doing so after missing the 2020 season. The superstar pass rusher may be on somewhat unstable ground with the Broncos.

The final season of Miller’s six-year, $114.5MM contract doubles as a club option. New GM George Paton has until the final day of the 2020 league year — March 16 — to decide on picking up that option, and Mike Klis of 9News notes the recently arrived executive has yet to contact the future Hall of Famer’s camp on this topic (Twitter link).

Miller is due to make $17.5MM in base salary next season, with a 2018 contract restructure bumping his 2021 cap number up to $22.13MM. While Miller was tethered to a $25.6MM cap number last year, when he missed the season because of a severe ankle injury, Troy Renck of Denver7 notes that the Broncos will not bring him back under his current contract.

We heard last month the Broncos were expected to ask their all-time sack leader to return at a lower rate, and they remain on this course. Should the Broncos release Miller, they would create $18MM in cap space. But they would be forced to replace one of the best players in franchise history.

When Miller signed this contract in 2016, the $19.1MM-AAV figure established a new benchmark for defensive players. It took more than two years for a player to exceed it, which Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack did in the same week. Joey Bosa‘s $27MM-per-year deal far eclipses Miller’s pact, with the cap having risen by more than $40MM in between those accords being signed. But the Broncos are now under new management, though John Elway remains with the team in a non-GM role.

The Broncos saw Miller replacement Malik Reed emerge with eight sacks and 17 QB hits last season, joining Pro Bowler Bradley Chubb (7.5, 19) in anchoring the team’s pass rush. Vic Fangio has only coached four games with Miller and Chubb in the lineup together, limiting his defenses. However, Denver placed 13th in defensive DVOA in both the 2019 and ’20 seasons.

While the Broncos convinced DeMarcus Ware to take a pay cut in 2016, a more eventful sequence unfolded the previous time they asked a cornerstone pass rusher to do so. That 2013 process featured a fax machine play a key role in Elvis Dumervil‘s departure. It will be interesting to see how the Miller process unfolds. The former Super Bowl MVP would certainly generate considerable interest were he to decline a pay cut and have a path to free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Miller, Paton, Lock

Broncos LB Von Miller is the subject of a criminal investigation in Parker, CO, as Mike Klis of 9News.com was among those to report (via Twitter). Parker police would not comment on the nature of the investigation, though a report from FOX 31 suggests that it pertains to domestic abuse allegations levied against Miller by his ex-fiancée. The Broncos issued a statement indicating they are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more info.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, a decision on whether charges will be filed will not be made for several weeks. Obviously, any allegations of domestic violence are serious and outweigh any on-field concerns, but Miller’s future with the Broncos was already in doubt. He missed the entire 2020 campaign due to an ankle injury, and though he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019, his eight sacks that year marked a career low (aside from a five-sack effort in 2013, when he played in just nine games).

Klis reports in a full-length piece that the Broncos will ask Miller to take a pay cut. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is due a $17.5MM base salary in 2021 — the last year of his current contract — but carries a $22.225MM cap charge due to an earlier restructure. Denver could release him and create $18MM in cap space, and given that Miller is unlikely to earn $17.5MM on the open market, he may be amenable to a reduction in pay. If the domestic allegations are substantiated, he can definitely bank on a suspension.

Now for more from the Mile High City:

  • In the same piece linked above, Klis examines the most pressing questions for new GM George Paton. Paton and HC Vic Fangio will report to John Elway in the team’s revamped power structure, but Paton will have control over personnel matters. One of his first orders of business — aside from the Miller issue — will be to sort out the Broncos’ QB situation. Veteran signal-callers like Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson may or may not be available on the trade market, and even if a blockbuster trade doesn’t happen, Klis expects Paton to bring in legitimate competition for incumbent passer Drew Lock. Paton will also have the No. 9 overall pick at his disposal.
  • The contract situation of safety Justin Simmons will need to be addressed as well. Simmons and the Broncos were unable to come to terms on a multi-year contract last offseason, so the newly-minted Pro Bowler played out the 2020 season under a $11.4MM franchise tag. Klis suggests that Simmons could adjust his asking price on a long-term deal given the expected decrease in the 2021 salary cap, and he also says a second tag — worth about $13.7MM — could be in play.
  • Saints vice president of pro personnel Terry Fontenot was the runner-up to Paton in the Broncos’ GM hunt, as Klis tweets. Denver was able to convince Paton — who had been a hot GM candidate for years — to finally leave Minnesota, but the club was certainly impressed by Fontenot, who is now said to be the Falcons’ top choice for their GM vacancy.