As the deadline for a long-term deal fast approaches, the Denver Broncos are no longer playing games with Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller. After a long back and forth negotiation battle, they're hoping that breaking a record will finally seal the deal.
The Broncos offered Miller a record $70 million guaranteed as part of a six-year, $114.5 million deal. If he accepts it, he'll be both the highest-paid player in Broncos franchise history, as well as make more guaranteed money than any non-quarterback player in the league. Most of the guaranteed money comes in the first two years of the contract.
If Miller doesn't take this offer, he'll have to play next season under the franchise tag, which would be a one-year tender for a bit more than $14 million for the upcoming season. Taking the franchise tender would not only be giving up money this year, it could potentially be damaging long-term. If Miller gets hurt or plays poorly this upcoming season, it would likely hurt his chances of scoring a bigger deal next season. Conversely, if Miller has another monstrous season, even though he'd be losing money this year, perhaps he could make even more in the coming years. He'll be another year older, though, and maybe teams won't want to offer as much guaranteed money.
Since the NFL scouting combine began at the end of February, the Broncos and Miller's representatives have tried to negotiate a long-term deal. This will be their last chance to do so.
Currently, the highest-paid defensive player is the Philadelphia Eagles' Fletcher Cox, who is making $63.3 million guaranteed – though that deal is not nearly all it's cracked up to be. And the highest-paid player in the league, regardless of position, is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who recently signed an extension that's paying him a league-record $87 million in guaranteed money.
Miller has said he would not play the 2016 season under the franchise tag, so taking the deal is a win for both sides. It's unlikely Miller would actually sit out any games, but stranger things have happened.
The team's previous offer made in June included $39.8 million guaranteed in the first two years, with $38.5 million at signing and $1.3 million in workout bonuses. Miller and his team of representatives weren't biting, though, pointing to Cox's six-year, $102.6 million deal with Philadelphia.
Miller, who's still just 27 years old, has recorded 60 sacks in five seasons and was an absolute menace during the team's Super Bowl run last year. He had five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in three playoff games. His sack and strip on Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50 gave the Broncos their first touchdown, and set the tone for the entire game, which was dominated by the Broncos defense, who held a powerful Carolina offense to a measly 10 points.
Besides Cox, the other highest-paid players are all quarterbacks. Luck would still be the highest paid, but Miller would be making more than anybody else if he takes this deal, including Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. Flacco also parlayed a terrific postseason in 2012, leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl championship while throwing 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Miller's career has been incredible overall, but it hasn't been without its rough spots. In 2013, he was suspended six games under the league's substance-abuse policy. And during Week 16 of that same season, he suffered an ACL injury.
He's bounced back in a big way, though, and the Broncos are willing to pay him like the future Hall of Famer he is. And with a few more seasons like the one he had in 2015, he'll get to renegotiate another big payday before this contract is up. He'd be crazy to not take Denver's offer.