Back in March, the Denver Broncos made the decision to use their exclusive franchise tag on linebacker Von Miller. The franchise tag puts his base salary at $14.129 million for the 2016-17 NFL season, making him the second highest paid LB for the season, behind Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs. Flash-forward to this week, and Von Miller says that there is no chance he plays this season under the franchise tag.
There are a couple of different ways you can read into this. You could say that Miller is willing to skip out on games to get his point across that he wants a long-term deal. This is a strategy that many players have used, and it has proved to be somewhat successful. Emmitt Smith held out of two games with the Cowboys, before the team was forced to bring him back at a higher salary (Smith was a Restricted Free Agent at the time, so it’s not 100% comparable, but it’s close).
The other way we can look at this is that Miller wants an extension before the season, and he is trying to grease the wheel for more revved up contract negotiations. This seems to be more likely for the All-Pro LB and Super Bowl MVP, as he has stated that he couldn’t imagine leaving Denver. We all know, however, that minds can change, especially if the money doesn’t add up.
Less than two weeks ago, the Broncos offered Miller a contract reported to be worth $114.5 million that was turned down immediately. This would already be the biggest contract for any LB in the history of the NFL. You may say that the guy is crazy for rejecting a deal like that so quickly, but just think about what this player has accomplished in such a short time.
Von Miller was selected second overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. In those five years, he has accrued 60 sacks in the regular season, the second most of that rookie class behind J.J. Watt. He has been named to two First-Team All-Pro lists and two Second-Team All-Pro lists. He has been nominated to four Pro-Bowls, and was the 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year. Oh yeah, he was also named MVP of Super Bowl 50.
This is one of the best linebackers the game has ever seen, and letting him walk would be a huge mistake by John Elway and the Broncos organization. Von Miller is a competitor, who has continued to improve and excel every additional season he has been in the league. If there is one man in the league who should be given a blank check, it should be Von Miller.