Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller just finished a remarkable season that culminated in being named the MVP of Super Bowl 50. Miller, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins, could not have picked a better time to turn in a career-defining season.
Broncos general manager John Elway said this week that he'd like to keep this dominant defense together, and the team's priority is to lock Miller down with a new contract.
"The goal is always to get a long-term deal, but again that goes back into the same old process of trying to include everybody in what we're looking at," Elway said.
Miller set the tone for Denver's top-ranked defense all season. He was single-handedly responsible for 11 of their league-best 52 sacks in 2015, and then somehow kicked it up a notch during the postseason against the top quarterbacks in the NFL. Against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, Miller disrupted Tom Brady's game and his 2.5 sacks and interception were pivotal in securing Denver's victory.
In the Super Bowl, Miller was relentless, sacking league MVP Cam Newton 2.5 times and forcing two fumbles, both of which put the Broncos offense in position to score touchdowns in their 24-10 win.
So it's clear why Elway and the Broncos want to keep Miller around. But Denver may be forced to use the franchise tag on Miller if the two sides are unable to come to an agreement.
The obstacle Miller and the Broncos need to work past is the fact that he would reportedly like to be the highest-paid defensive player in the league next season, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. That distinction currently belongs to Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who signed a six-year, $114,375,000 contract with nearly $60 million guaranteed. Miller, however, sees himself staying in Denver.
"I can't see myself being with any other team," Miller said on The Late Late Show with James Corden. "I've spent a lot of time with those guys, and I would like to finish my career out with those guys."
Miller has also expressed confidence that Elway will be able to work with his camp to get a long-term deal in place, citing Elway's experience as a player in the NFL.
"He is one of the best there is," Miller told the Denver Post. "We're here today because of him. I have people representing my situation as well and it's going to be a peaceful thing. I am not really worried about it."
Elway has successfully navigated similar situations in the past, including with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas last offseason. The Broncos placed their franchise tag on Thomas, and then in the summer were able to hammer out a five-year deal worth $70 million with $43 million guaranteed.
Miller, a four-time Pro Bowler, was selected by the Broncos with the second overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Over his first two seasons in Denver, Miller had 30 sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown. A suspension for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy limited his effectiveness in his third year in Denver, but he's still been a force throughout his career and would be highly coveted around the league if he did somehow manage to hit free agency. Many teams would be willing to break the bank to bring in Miller.
But considering the impact Miller had on the team's Super Bowl run, it's impossible to imagine Denver won't do everything it can to establish a long-term deal with him. Miller should remain with the Broncos next season and beyond, regardless of the route the team takes to secure that future.