The deadline for the Broncos to get a long-term deal with star pass rusher/patriotic model Von Miller is rapidly approaching. Both sides have until 2 p.m. on July 15 to agree to a multi-year contract.
If they don’t, Miller has two options: Play the 2016 on the franchise tender, which would pay him a little more than $14 million, or sit out the season in a holdout.
We know that the Broncos offered Miller a six-year, $114.5 million deal with $39.8 of the contract guaranteed in the first two years and $58 million in overall guarantees. (Keep in mind, guaranteed money is all that matters when evaluating NFL contracts.)
Talks broke down in June — things got so bad that Miller even cropped Broncos general manager John Elway out of Instagram photos — but communication between both sides has reportedly resumed in July.
So why hasn’t a deal gotten done? We asked CBS Sports’ salary cap guru Joel Corry, who worked as an NFL agent for 15 years before moving over to media. Here are some takeaways from our conversation.
The main issue holding up talks isn’t necessarily the amount of guaranteed money — it’s the way the deal is structured. Corry believes that Miller wants the $58 million in overall guarantees to vest in March 2017, not March 2018.
Corry: Since there’s $38.5 million guaranteed at signing, I’m assuming that’s over the first two years of the deal. I would take that to mean that in year three, there’s $58 million in guarantees. The way most contracts are structured, the injury guarantee becomes a full guarantee. Typically, the first day, third day, fifth day in the league of that specific year — so that would be March 2018 — that would become fully guaranteed. That’s not going to be acceptable to Von’s agent. He wants the 2018 salary and whatever components there are in 2018 to be fully guaranteed in March 2017.
He wants it to vest early. That’s how (Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman) Fletcher Cox’s deal works. He’s the most recent example to use. He’s got $36.3 fully guaranteed at signing. But next March, he’ll have $55.5 (million) guaranteed because he’s got his third-year base salary and a portion of his fourth-year base salary fully guaranteed in March 2017.
Miller and the Broncos will likely come to terms on a long-term deal.
Corry: I’ve always been of the opinion that once they got two things out of the way — the length of the contract and the overall dollars — they had a general framework to get a deal done.
I think you make the third-year guarantee vest in March 2017. Then you could pretty much be done. I don’t think you necessarily have to beat Fletcher Cox’s $63.3 million in overall guarantees. Just move the third year guarantees vesting up a year, and there’s no reason a deal won’t get done if you do that.
It’s highly unlikely Miller sits out the 2016 season if a long-term deal doesn’t get done.
Corry: I’ll believe that when I see it because there hasn’t been a franchise player sit out an entire season since (defensive end) Dan Williams in 1998. The 2006 CBA put in this July 15 franchise player deadline. There hasn’t been a franchise player to miss a game since that July 15 deadline was put in. The closest anyone has come was (cornerback) Dunta Robinson in 2009 with the Texans. He didn’t sign until like four or five days before camp started. But none of them missed games. I basically take that with a grain of salt or roll my eyes when I see that.
The Broncos have gotten some players to agree to team-friendly deals in recent years. Things could get dicey for the organization if they continue to play hardball with Miller.
Corry: They got (cornerback) Chris Harris to take a hometown discount. Derek Wolfe inexplicably did a deal a few weeks before he was going to head into free agency that saved them a ton of money. I think they kind of have a track record where they get contracts that are favorable to them.
Miller may be the wrong guy to try to do this with because it’s not going to play well in the locker room. They already put people on notice last year when they virtually asked Peyton Manning to take a $10 million pay cut. They agreed on a $4 million pay cut. But it’s like, if you could ask him to take a pay cut then they could do anything with anybody. You’re going to have a locker room problem if you play extreme hardball with Von Miller.