If, as it appears, Broncos pass rusher Von Miller‘s 2020 season is over before it began, a real question emerges as to whether Miller ever plays again for the team that made him the second overall pick in the draft nine years ago.
Miller’s contract runs through the 2021 season, with salaries of $17.5 million this year and next. This year’s cap number of $25.625 million amplifies the impact of the injury, with nearly 13 percent of the total spending amount tied to a player who won’t be able to play. Next year’s lower cap number of $22.225 million will consume a similar percentage of the total cap, if the cap drops to the agreed minimum of $175 million, due to the pandemic.
So the question becomes whether the Broncos will commit $17.5 million in cash next season to Miller, who turns 32 in March. A new contract would surely reduce the cap number, perhaps significantly, but reaching a consensus on Miller’s value could be a challenge — especially in light of the extended rancor that unfolded between the Broncos and Miller in 2016, as they tried to convert his franchise-tag designation into a long-term deal.
Miller from time to time has acknowledged that, eventually, the Broncos may decide to tear up the rest of his contract and move on. With only one year left after a full year lost due to injury, cutting or trading Miller potentially will become a very real option for 2021. While it’s too early to know what the Broncos will choose to do, Miller finishing his contract in 2021 with a $17.5 million salary and a $22.225 million cap number seems to be the least likely of the various possibilities. Whether it’s a new contract, a trade, or a release, one of those three outcomes would be more likely than Miller playing out the last year of a deal that pays out on average more than $19 million per year.
However it plays out, the Broncos will have to make an early decision in 2021. His contract was negotiated to compel the Broncos to guarantee $7 million of his salary on the first day of the next league year.