Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Let's start off with an excellent question from reader Steve Williams:
@iaofm can't Von renegotiate next off season? If so they need cash and cap space especially with the other players out of contract.— Steve Williams (@steve1981) March 8, 2013
Peyton Manning aside, Von Miller is clearly the Broncos' most valuable asset, and as Steve suggests, he's eventually going to get a contract which reflects that.
The big questions of course, are how much Von will get, and when he'll get it.
It could reasonably be argued that among non-quarterbacks, Houston's J.J. Watt is the only player in the league worth more than Von, and both players figure to continue to improve, given their youth, and health permitting.
We were told Mario Williams got $50M in guarantees from Buffalo last year, although as the Elvis Dumervil story reminds us, even these guaranteed numbers are significantly inflated. In fact, Williams only received a full guarantee on $24.9M.
Continuing on this tangent for a moment, Elvis's contract has long been characterized as having $43.156M in guarantees, but we now know he likely won't be seeing $12M of that from Denver. Tom Brady and Joe Flacco each received new deals recently which were advertised as containing over $50M in guarantees, but likewise, under the hood, it's just not the case.
Anyway, back to Von. If he were a free agent right now, he'd likely get a whole lot more than Williams did with the Bills.
Now that we're talking about full guarantees, as opposed to advertised guarantees, our guess is that Von would get about $40M in full guarantees which would cover perhaps the first three years of a deal.
Fortunately for Denver, and less fortunately for Von, he's not a free agent, and he won't be one anytime soon.
Miller is set to make a touch below $2.3M in 2013, a bit more than $3.2M in 2014, and he's then scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency for 2015.
But wait, there's a catch! And of course, it favors the Broncos. (Remember how the CBA was portrayed as those greedy players seeking and receiving an unreasonable amount of the NFL's profit pie? Yeah, not so much.)
Here's the catch. Actually, there are two.
First, notice that there's no talk about Von potentially holding out for a better deal this summer, even though he's grossly underpaid. That's because under the CBA, no rookie contracts can be renegotiated until after three seasons. So, as Steve noted in his question, Miller is first eligible for a new deal after the 2013 season.
Second, the Broncos hold an option on Von for 2015, which would pay the linebacker at the 2014 transition tender level (figure around $9M). The window for Denver to trigger this option begins after the 2013 regular season finale and ends on May 3, 2014. That ~$9M salary is only guaranteed for injury when exercised, and does not become fully guaranteed until the beginning of the 2015 league year.
In 2016, Denver could use its franchise tag to keep Von from hitting free agency, and for that, they'd likely owe him a salary of around $11M (a 20% raise on his 2015 salary, unless the league-wide LB tender value is higher). If they were to tag him in 2017, then they're looking at another 20% raise, to around $13.2M.
Tagging him a third time in 2018 would require a 44% raise, to around $19M, and that's when the tender presumably gets too expensive. But not necessarily - depends upon how Von's career progresses. He'll only be 29 years old during that season.
In total, including two theoretical franchise tags, the Broncos can keep Von through the 2017 season (five more years) at a cost of just $38.7M in total, which is an absolute bargain.
The Broncos have control, and they possess all of the leverage, whereas all Von will have as a bargaining chip will be to hold out for a better deal next year. (If I'm Von Miller, I'm planning to hold out in 2014, because I am not going to play for $3.2M and risk my health and earning power, when I know I'm worth many times more than that on the open market. To anyone who claims they'd "stand by the contract" in Von's shoes, I heartily say bullshit.)
Obviously, we have no idea how the Broncos plan to handle Von's situation. But you're right, Steve - they have to be thinking about it, and if they're going to give him a new contract next year, they'll need to save up both cash and cap space to make that happen.
I still think this Dumervil stuff is part of something bigger for 2013, but it could most certainly be partially motivated by a long-term plan to keep Von in town, and happy.
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