A week ago, agent Joby Branion was trying to finalizing a deal with the Broncos for linebacker Von Miller. Earlier today, Branion joined PFT Live to discuss the negotiations with the Broncos.
At a time when then’s no on-field competition, plenty of it happened during the negotiations between Branion and Broncos G.M. John Elway.
“He’s just extremely competitive,” Branion, founder of Vanguard Sports Group, explained. “I can say that the negotiation approach that he and his team uses is a bit unorthodox and unconventional but you can’t argue with the effectiveness and we don’t know unless we’re in their room what their ultimate goals are. So it’s always after the fact you sort of look and say, ‘Well that didn’t look like that worked out well,’ or ‘Geez, that worked out great.’ Only they really know but, yeah, they’re a little different but, hey, there are a lot of people that use a lot of different approaches to negotiate.”
It seemed acrimonious at times, but the deal eventually got done. Are there hard feelings going forward?
“I hope there aren’t, I can’t speak for the Broncos,” Branion said. “I can tell you that I have deep respect for John Elway as does Von, who still calls him ‘Mr. Elway.’ He’s a rare competitor, extraordinarily goal-oriented. . . . Sometimes it can get dicey, the longer a negotiation goes on in my experience there are going to be ebbs and flows and peaks and valleys and communications and miscommunications. You try to keep professional with it, and I think that we all did and when it was all said and done both sides pretty much got I think what they were looking for. Which was a contract that made sense for them and Von staying in Denver.”
Miller wanted to stay in Denver, but Branion was convinced that, without the offer Miller received, he would have sat out all of 2016 and potentially left the team in 2017.
“Absolutely, no question,” Branion said. “You know, a lot of people think it’s bluster and all that and sometimes it is, in this case no. It wouldn’t have made any sense. I told him, ‘Look, I treat you like you’re my own son,’ and if in fact this were my son I’d have to tell him you can’t afford to play for the franchise tag, not given your overall value. I mean, he’s a guy that deserves to be in the 19, 20, 21 million dollars a year range and his tag number is only 14. So it would make no sense at all for him to play for one year for [$14 million], risk potentially getting hurt and then be in a position where the team would be able to exclusive tag him yet again next year. Which I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t do because then the number would still be so far below his value whereas if he had restricted free agency even, as he likely would have in March, he would have made up the difference.”
Miller could have left sooner than 2017, if he’d been traded. I asked Branion whether the report that he requested permission to seek a trade was true.
“I make it a practice, Mike, not to go into the specifics of what was said or what wasn’t said during the course of a negotiation,” Branion said. “What I will say is that over the course of the negotiation all options were discussed at one point or another, whether in passing or not. So, with Von, there was the option of signing a deal, there was the option of playing on the franchise tag, not playing on the tag, having the tag rescinded, as was done for Josh Norman, and another option was a potential trade. Remember, that’s for the club as well as it would’ve been for Von. So I think all of those options at one point or another were sort of discussed and put out there but there were no demands made I can tell you that.”
So it sounds like the issue at least came up. The Broncos reportedly shot it down when it did.
Ultimately, it all worked out. The two sides agreed on a long-term deal. Even if they now currently don’t agree on how to characterize its terms.