What Fletcher Cox’s Extension Means For Von Miller

Adam Schefter got the news kicked off on reporting Fletcher Cox’s extension: six years, $103 million, $63 million guaranteedMike Florio then followed up by giving out details of the deal.  Cox’s contract table has already been updated on Over The Cap.

This deal comes off the heels of Florio posting an opinion on the Von Miller negotiations, one that raised some eyebrows from Jason Fitzgerald, among others.  In reporting the details of Cox’s contract, Florio also crows a bit on that opinion piece, stating the following:

As noted earlier, this deal will make Broncos linebacker Von Miller very happy, giving him an apples-to-apples comparison that the Broncos will have a hard time characterizing as an anomaly or an aberration.

How does this opinion delivered by Florio stack up?  Let’s take a closer look.

As always, when the first numbers come out, the “guarantees” reported are almost always the “potential” guarantees that include figures such as injury-only guarantees.  We then later learn that the “full” guarantees are often much lower than the “potential” guarantees.  But in reporting the details, Florio also introduces a new concept: the “practical” guarantees that arise from money that may not be fully guaranteed, but due to the contract structure will be difficult for the team to avoid guaranteeing.  So, while the “full” guarantee is is only $36.299 million, Florio argues that the “practical” guarantee is $55.549 million, with a “potential” guarantee of $63.299 million.

However, all those numbers miss an important difference between the situations of Cox and Miller. Cox still had one year left on his deal: his fifth year option exercised from his 2012 rookie contract, a total of $7.799 million that became fully guaranteed last March.  This was money that Cox was going to get no matter what, and it is comparable to Miller’s 2015 salary of $9.754 million from his 2011 deal.

Therefore, the new money given to Cox must exclude that $7.799 million.  So while Schefter does almost correctly exclude it from the total money of Cox’s deal ($103.9 million), he does not do so for the guarantee figure.  Neither does Florio, either in what he deems as “practical” or “potential” guarantees, and given the opinions he’s delivered on Miller it’s a move of sleight of hand.

Subtract the already-guaranteed $7.799 million, and the “practical” guarantees that come from new money are $47.75 million.  While that number beats the second highest defensive guarantees of Marcell Dareus at $42.9 million, it’s a far cry from the white whale that is Ndamukong Suh’s $59.955 million in full guarantees.  If anything, Cox’s deal further solidifies Suh’s as a clear outlier.

Therefore, I do not see this deal moving the needle significantly on the Miller negotiations.  (Jason agrees in his general take on Cox’s deal here.) I think it has always been difficult for the Broncos to find a way to get out of Year 3, and if Miller picked up any win it would be in confirming that the Broncos have to commit to him for three years (as they already have with Demaryius Thomas).  But the knowledge that we can pick up from Cox’s deal is this: while the Broncos will indeed be guaranteeing Miller a lot of money, remember that they’ve already effectively guaranteed him $14.129 million.  To surpass Cox’s $47.75 million of “practical” guarantees, the Broncos would just need to chip in at least another $34 million.

Striking a deal with Miller can be done.  It may take more time and include some creative structure to get it done, but there’s still a month to do that.  In the meantime, there’s no need to let media narratives panic anybody that’s watching.