Win or lose, the Broncos have some tough decisions to make after Super Bowl 50 ends. Here’s the easiest: Applying the franchise tag to linebacker Von Miller.
There will be other candidates for it, in theory. But Miller, the second overall pick in 2011, makes the most sense, by far. Also, with a franchise tender of roughly $14 million for Miller and nearly $20 million for quarterback Brock Osweiler (who if all goes as planned on Sunday won’t even play), the Broncos get far more bang for the buck by tagging Miller.
Given the team’s history under G.M. John Elway (with left tackle Ryan Clady and receiver Demaryius Thomas), the formula will go like this: Tag Miller in February, and sign him to a long-term deal on July 15, the deadline for doing so.
Elway could choose to alter that strategy in 2016, given his frustration with the fact that players not under contract don’t participate in the offseason program. But that could require Miller’s agents to take in April what they’d take later. From Miller’s perspective, it would be easy to argue that, if the team wants him there for the offseason, they need to give him a little more than they’d give him on July 15.
If Elway and the Broncos choose to accelerate the signing of Miller into February, they could then tag Osweiler. But that would make his pay for 2016 the starting point on a long-term deal, putting him at or near the top of the market before he has truly proven he belongs there.
Keep this in mind: Coach Gary Kubiak inherited both Osweiler and Peyton Mannng. As Vic Lombardi of Altitude Sports in Denver told PFT Live during the 2015 regular season, the Broncos were interested in signing Tyrod Taylor last year, which would suggest that they are at least considering other options at the position.
At outside linebacker, there is no other option. They need to do what they have to do to keep Miller for the long haul. And they surely will.