As expected, the Broncos and linebacker Von Miller have been unable to strike a deal on a long-term deal. It means, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that the Broncos will apply the franchise tag to Miller.
Schefter’s report doesn’t address whether the Broncos will use the non-exclusive or exclusive version of the tag. The non-exclusive tag, which would allow another team to sign Miller to an offer sheet and swipe him in return for two first-round draft picks if the Broncos don’t match the offer, would cost $14.129 million for 2016, fully guaranteed. (The ESPN.com story incorrectly explains that the franchise tag is calculated based on the average of the top players at his position. The 2011 CBA created a more complicated formula that is driven by the average percentage of the total salary cap that the franchise tag consumes over a five-year period.)
The exclusive franchise tag would be based on the average of the five highest 2016 cap numbers for all linebackers, measured as of the conclusion of the period for signing restricted free agents to offer sheets, in April. PFT previously has reported that the exclusive tag for linebackers currently is on track to by $14.04 million — less than the non-exclusive tag.
So the Broncos should, and likely will, use the exclusive tag, slamming the door on the possibility of another team taking him away. If the Broncos don’t use the exclusive tag, it could be a sign that they’d be willing to take a pair of first-round draft picks (and the rookie wage-scale contracts that go with them) in lieu of breaking the bank for Miller.
Some have suggested that Miller wants to be paid on par with Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. But Suh’s contract was driven not by the franchise tag but by the open market. Under the franchise tag, a long-term deal for Miller fairly should be based on a first-year guaranteed payment of $14.129 million and a second-year raise of 20 percent (to $16.95 million); that’s roughly $31 million fully guaranteed, at a minimum, that the Broncos should pay Miller right out of the gates.
Alternatively, Miller could go year to year under the tag, getting $14.129 million this year, $16.95 million next year, and forcing the Broncos to give him a market-value deal or a 44-percent raise for 2018, which would push his compensation all the way to $24.408 million for one year. Under that approach, however, Miller would bear the injury risk for two full seasons beyond the five he’s already played without getting a second contract.
The other problem for the Broncos is that, until Miller signs a long-term contract (the deadline is July 15), he’ll likely boycott offseason workouts. Last year, G.M. John Elway expressed frustration with that approach.