The Denver Broncos obviously made the right move this offseason by franchise tagging Super Bowl MVP pass rusher Von Miller. Yes, the move led to quarterback Brock Osweiler, who the Broncos were banking on to be their future quarterback after Peyton Manning announced his retirement, skipping town for a big free agency deal with the Houston Texans (four-year, $72 mil). However, the ability to keep an elite pass rusher like Von Miller was something that absolutely could not have been passed up.
Now, after letting Osweiler go and placing the tag on Miller, the Broncos have found themselves in quite an awkward situation. According to Yahoo! Sports and multiple reports, Miller and the Broncos are still “far apart” in contract talks and the dispute could very well lead to a holdout on Miller’s end during the start of OTA’s and mid-summer training camp.
Now, obviously, the Denver Broncos do not want to let a talent like Von Miller walk out the door to free agency, as according to Miller, “money talks.” However, the Broncos had to have known that after the stellar season and postseason that Miller had, he was going to want an absolutely insane deal in order to stay in the Mile High City. It should come as absolutely no surprise to John Elway and Broncos management that Miller wants more money than what is being offered. Granted, the currently rumored offer of approximately five years, $90 million that the Broncos reportedly made should not be considered “chump change” to a guy of Miller’s skill set. However, it has become abundantly clear that either the Broncos are trying to low-ball Miller’s demands for a five-year, $110 million deal, or they simply do not have the ability to pay him. $110 million is definitely a ton of money and nobody should be worth that amount, but Von Miller proved last season that if there were ever a defensive player worth that price tag, it is him.
Another thing that has come back to haunt the Broncos during this offseason roster shakeup has been the re-signing of running back, C.J. Anderson after the previously restricted free agent was made an initial offer by the Miami Dolphins. Because Anderson wasn’t an unrestricted free agent, the Broncos were allowed to match Miami’s offer of four years, $18 million. The re-signing of Anderson may have allowed Denver to retain a key piece of their offense after allowing Brock Osweiler to walk, but it killed them when it came down to trying to re-sign Von Miller as valuable salary cap space was awarded to a non-position of need (Ronnie Hillman, Juwan Thompson) instead of a position that is THE anchor of the defense which just won them a Super Bowl.
The current NFL is all about two things: defense and a passing offense. C.J. Anderson is a solid running back but he is neither a star pass rusher or the key to the Broncos offense. Anderson could very well rush for over 1,000 yards this season with the Broncos, but in the end, it will mean nothing if Denver cannot muster up the ability to throw the football with success (good luck doing that with Mark Sanchez). Running backs in today’s NFL are very dispensable, while elite pass rushers like Von Miller are not. Denver should have gotten this Von Miller deal taken care of early in the offseason. Instead, they made the frivolous decision to retain a player in a non-position of need like C.J. Anderson and now they are in a salary cap battle with Von Miller. The Broncos have already lost two big pieces on their defense in linebacker Danny Trevathan and defensive end Malik Jackson to free agency. The bigger position of need for Denver entering free agency was clearly on defense, but apparently, John Elway did not see it the same way.
A deal will most likely be getting done in the coming weeks or months that will satisfy both parties, but the fact that both sides are still this far apart in negotiations goes to show how much of an impact the league’s salary cap and a few bad decisions can have for an NFL team, even Super Bowl champions.