On Monday, at a joyous occasion at the White House, Von Miller said cheery things while standing next to Gary Kubiak:
We’ve made real progress over the last couple of days. I’m very optimistic about the whole thing.
On Wednesday, Miller and the Broncos traded some barbs privately via the media:
“Contract talks with Von Miller reach impasse after Broncos deadline passes without deal” —Mike Klis
“Not to say it can’t get done, but it will be very difficult for Denver and Von Miller to reach long-term agreement by July 15 deadline.” —Adam Schefter
I hope you didn’t too optimistic on Monday, and I hope you didn’t get too pessimistic on Wednesday. This is just another step in the long progress of extending one of the NFL’s best players.
Schefter reported that the Broncos offered a six year, $114.5 million deal with $39.8 million guaranteed in the first two years, and that Miller turned down that offer. Klis’s report aligns with that offer, saying that the two sides have “partially agreed” upon the years and the total value (and in doing the math, an APY of $19.083 million), but there are “significant differences” to the total guaranteed money. Klis also adds that Olivier Vernon’s recent deal that included $29 million in Year 1 cash was used as a comparable.
These details have some overlap with thoughts that I had the last time I examined this extension process. In particular (and as babsonjr noted in comments), there are similarities to the the Contract A sample I drafted that would allow Miller to become the highest paid defensive player in terms of APY, but not guarantees.
If the Broncos and Miller have indeed agreed upon an APY that just barely edges out Ndamukong Suh’s (at $19.0625 million), then that is indeed real progress that has been made, and it’s a slight win on Miller’s side. Thus, in order to get the guarantee gap bridged, it may take a slight concession on Miller’s part to make that happen, hence the current reported differences on that front.
I will say, however, that Miller is correct to reject the $39.8 million guarantee offer if that consisted of the entirely of full guarantees (as Nicki Jhabvala has suggested in a report of her own). His guarantee floor should be no lower than what Marcell Dareus got ($42.7 million). Vernon also received $40 million guaranteed, and there’s no doubt that Miller is a better player than Vernon. But all of those numbers are a far cry from the monstrous $59.955 million Suh got guaranteed, and it would appear that Miller’s camp may have ceded that he won’t get that much fully guaranteed.
On the other hand, demanding $29 million cash in Year 1, as Vernon got, may be too ambitious of a request for Miller if he’s going to win the APY battle. There are certainly ways that it can be done, but it involves either raising Miller’s 2016 cap number beyond the currently earmarked number of around $14 million, or prorating more money in the signing bonus that will mortgage cap space in later years. I don’t blame Miller’s camp for using that number as part of the negotiation progress, but I would expect that he won’t get it, and if the contract is structured properly, it will be impractical for the Broncos to part ways with Miller after the first two to three years anyway.
One other comment I want to make regards the Broncos’ invented deadline of Tuesday in an effort to get Miller under contract before minicamps end. In my opinion, this was a toothless deadline that Miller’s camp was correct to call a bluff on. Everyone knows well that the true deadline, when the rules explicitly state an extension cannot be reached, is July 15. The Broncos may not have liked that both Ryan Clady and Demaryius Thomas missed minicamps as a result of their negotiations. But it’s time for the team to accept that missing minicamps is going to be a cold, hard reality of doing this type of business. This may be the only time in Miller’s career that he can enjoy an entire spring without being obligated to attend these camps, and when a player’s not under contract, he should have that right if he so chooses.
All in all, this week’s events have yet to sway my opinion of showing cautious optimism on getting Miller extended. Both sides are chipping away at barriers, and while there’s certainly a decent chance that talks ultimately fail before July 15, I would put the higher percentage on a deal getting done.