Guaranteed money is the only real sticking point in Von Miller deal

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The Broncos and linebacker Von Miller have agreed to the years (six) and total payout ($114.5 million) on a long-term deal that must be signed, if at all, before July 15. The contract hasn’t been finalized for one reason and one reason only: The two sides can’t agree how much of the money will be guaranteed in full at signing, how much will be guaranteed for injury only at signing, and when any injury-only guarantees will convert to full guarantees.

The Broncos offered Miller $38.5 million fully guaranteed at signing. Under the terms of the offer, a total of $58 million would become fully guaranteed in March 2018, with the extra amounts guaranteed only for injury until then.

Miller wants a much greater overall guarantee (possibly $70 million or more), with the total guarantee fully vesting not in March 2018 but in March 2017. The dollars paid to Miller under the six-year contract don’t change; the debate centers on how much will be fully guaranteed when Miller signs the deal — and when any additional injury guarantees will become fully guaranteed.

With the Eagles giving Fletcher Cox (who has made it to one Pro Bowl in four seasons) $63 million in guarantees, with more than $55 million becoming fully guaranteed by March of 2017, Miller can plausibly seek a total guarantee of $70 million or more with the vesting of a significant chunk of it by March 2017. If the Broncos, who haven’t engaged Miller’s camp since the Cox deal was done (and vice-versa), still refuse to alter their proposed structure of $38 million fully guaranteed at signing and $58 million fully guaranteed by March 2018, the question becomes why won’t they?

As we see it, there are five potential explanations for Denver’s position:

1. They fear a return of his substance abuse issues.

If this happens, and if Miller ultimately is suspended for it, the Broncos would be able to void any remaining guarantees and to recover potentially significant portions of signing bonus money. Given that Miller has completely exited the substance-abuse program, it’s unlikely that within the next two calendar years Miller would be subject to another suspension — especially since it now takes more violations to trigger a suspension.

2. They fear an Albert Haynesworth scenario.

Haynesworth signed a massive contract with Washington in 2009, and he then proceeded to underachieve. After five years with Miller, however, the Broncos should be able to tell whether or not he can be trusted with a major payday. The fact that they’re already willing to give him $38 million fully guaranteed at signing suggests that they’re not concerned about Miller suddenly becoming lazy or content.

3. They don’t want to fund the guaranteed money.

The outdated rule requiring fully guaranteed payments to be placed in escrow has made plenty of teams unwilling to fully guarantee significant amounts at signing, resulting in few players receiving full guarantees beyond the first two seasons. In this case, Miller isn’t looking for $70 million or more to be fully guaranteed at signing. He wants the guarantee to fully vest in March 2017, which is the point at which the Broncos would be required to fund anything beyond the amounts fully guaranteed if/when he signs. So this isn’t the same as, for example, the Dolphins be required to fork over $60 million when signing Ndamukong Suh last year. The Broncos would, for example, pay $45 million now (some to Miller and the rest to escrow for 2017) and, for example, another $25 million to escrow in March 2017, based on a $70 million total guarantee.

4. They are concerned he’ll have an injury that impairs his performance.

Injury guarantees apply only if the player can’t pass a physical. Miller could, in theory, suffer an injury in 2016 or 2017 that doesn’t keep him from playing but that keeps him from playing at a dominant level. That would allow the Broncos to cut Miller (or squeeze him to take less money), if the date on which the money becomes fully guaranteed is delayed into year three of the deal.

5. They want to keep their options open.

In theory, the Broncos could decide at some point in the next two years that they have found a younger, cheaper player who can do the same thing Miller does. It’s a dynamic that happens constantly in the NFL, with veterans thrown overboard in favor of lower-priced talent having comparable skills. It’s hard to imagine that happening before 2018 or 2019 with Miller, whose dominance blossomed in the playoffs last season — and who is still on the front end of his prime.

Again, the issue isn’t total dollars. The issue is whether and to what extent the Broncos will give Miller an assurance that chunks of the total dollars will be paid. For now, they’re willing to commit for two years. Miller wants two years now and a third-year commitment in nine months — along with a greater overall guarantee than Cox received.

It’s for the parties to decide the specific structure. But with a consensus as to years and total dollars and a willingness by the Broncos to fully guarantee roughly one third of the entire contract when Miller signs it, common sense suggests that if the two sides would commit to a true back-and-forth negotiation, they’d be able to quickly reach a resolution regarding how and when to pay out roughly two thirds of the $114.5 million over six years that the Broncos are willing to pay and Miller is willing to accept.

33 responses to “Guaranteed money is the only real sticking point in Von Miller deal

  1. #2 always creeps into he mind. Most recently, SUH. Detroit let him go… Miami paid. What have they gotten in return? 29th ranked with 6… 6… 6 sacks?

    Miller, 11; Ziggy 14.5… Devon Taylor 7.

    Miller far more disruptive than Suh, even without the sacks.

    I don’t believe Miller will relax and collect like Suh.

  2. I’m a huge Broncos fan and I still believe they’ll get a deal done before the deadline. On the same token it is frustrating to see Elway take an approach that doesn’t seem to reflect an all out commitment to keep our best player. I think it’s important to take care of your own drafted talent. It shows the locker room that the Broncos take care of their own and aren’t only willing to hand out big deals to FAs. Please pay him. He’s earned it.

  3. Hate the guy’s guts, but Miller is coming off the two best games of his career on the biggest stage possible. You’re paying him, Elway. Face the facts.

  4. Having a player like Von Miller is a blessing and a curse. $19mil/year is a lot of money to have tied up in a non-QB. The other thing I usually see is when one guy gets paid by a team other players sometimes hold their hands out.

    Von is great but $19mil can buy you several good players instead of one great player.

  5. “Von needs to fund Johnny’s partying as long as he is his roomy. The extra cash will come in handy…”

    The extra cash may not even be enough to pay for the damage to all of the houses Johnny trashes in the process.

  6. Miller is one of the top 2 defensive players in the league and coming off a SB MVP and the Broncos seriously thought he’d take 20-30 million less in guaranteed money than some of the players that have been paid in the last couple years?

  7. That headline is like like saying, “Money is the only real sticking point in Von Miller deal.”

    The guaranteed money is pretty much always all that matters.

  8. The cheating Broncos will just pay him under the table like they did with Elway and Davis. To the tune of about $30M over and above the salary cap.

    That’s the Denver way. Cheat, cheat, cheat…

    3 tainted, fraudulent SB “wins”***

  9. This is insane to mortgage this much of your cap on a LB. Yes, he’s a special talent but his play will decline in 3-4 years. Hell, I wouldn’t even offer 70 million overall.

    Look at the most consistent team over the past 15 years—New England. I don’t like them at all but the facts remain they have managed their cap the best of anyone and you never see anyone getting this kind of money.

    Good team ball, coaching and front offices can put strong teams on the field without all of these over priced superstars.

  10. Trade him for 1st round picks to a team that will pay him the money. 19 million a year is very expensive when you want to be perennial contenders every year.

  11. Miller was the reason the Broncos won the AFC Championship and the SB by harassing franchise QBs Brady and Newton, so yeah, he deserves franchise QB money. PAY THE MAN!!!

  12. When will the NFLPA demand an NHL style agreement, where you sign a contract that is guaranteed, no worried about being cut, etc.
    In the NHL the only thing you can do is buy a contract out, where (depending on age) the team has to pay you half or two thirds of the remaining value over twice the years left. But – you are then a free agent and can sign with someone else.

  13. It is a team sport, and Miller is just a part of that overall team effort.
    That being said, Von Miller won them the Super Bowl. Without his individual efforts, above and beyond the team concept, The Broncos would not have won the Super Bowl or even gotten to the Super Bowl.
    This is a billion dollar industry whose overall success is based on one thing; Winning The Super Bowl.
    If one player is primarily responsible for your franchises success in a billion dollar industry you pay that player. I don’t care what industry you’re in.

    Meanwhile, there are 31 other teams wishing they were in a contract dispute with the Super Bowl MVP.

  14. Vons drug issues will resurface at some point…mark my words. Either by his own doing or the Broncos by setting him up 2 years down the road.

  15. ricko1112 says:
    Jun 18, 2016 10:55 AM
    The cheating Broncos will just pay him under the table like they did with Elway and Davis. To the tune of about $30M over and above the salary cap.

    That’s the Denver way. Cheat, cheat, cheat…

    3 tainted, fraudulent SB “wins”***

    Apparently, rick’s team can’t win whether they cheat or don’t cheat. Haters gonna hate.

  16. ricko1112

    Your’e jealousy and envy is blatant.
    You try to deflect from your own cheating teams history.

    Denver Broncos…..SUPER BOWL CHAMPS and all your hollow rhetoric in no way impacts the fact that at the end of the season….your team was on vaca, while The Broncos played on and on and won out.

    It’s a new season. Maybe another team wins out. Maybe your team.
    Big deal.
    It’s like that every year.
    That’s why it is such a blast.

    We live on…

  17. As a long time Broncos fan, I am starting to wonder if John Elway will change course and concede that they are going to eventually lose Von Miller. Suppose Elway decides he is going to let the clock expire, and Miller is designated for the Franchise tag compensation amount for 2016. Von decides to sit out initially, but, in reality, he will almost certainly return in week 11 or so of the regular season as to not lose a year of NFL tenure. After the season, Elway then tags Miller again, knowing that he will have lost exclusive rights to him, but also knowing another team is virtually guaranteed to sign Miller and give up the

  18. first and third round compensation. Elway also knows that the Broncos are more than likely going to receive two additional third round picks as compensation for losing Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson. Also consider that unless Aqib Talib has a monster season, he is almost certainly to get cut after next season. Now imagine John Elway going into an offseason with a ridiculous amount of cap space to spend in free agency, ANG a draft that could have seven picks in the top 100 selections (2 firsts, a second and possibly four thirds)….also, Von Miller’s contract does not insulate him from injury, just ask the Chiefs and Justin Houston. It will be interesting to see the hand John Elway plays.

  19. Makes no sense to me to have guaranteed money a sticking point unless you know you’re NOT going to pay it.

    Might as well sign him to a 250 million dollar contract at that point because you’re guaranting he won’t see the entirety of it.

    If you plan for him to be a “Bronco for life” then start acting like it and give him a contract commensurate with the market and one in which he knows he’ll see the entirety of.

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