With Demaryius Thomas locked up for the future, the next key piece that General Manager John Elway and the Broncos front office has to worry about is linebacker/edge rusher Von Miller. With Miller being one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL, his next contract expects to be a rich one.
The Broncos division rival Kansas City Chiefs made the negotiations with Miller a little bit easier(or harder depending how you look at it) after they signed edge rusher Justin Houston to a six-year, $101 million dollar deal that includes $52.5 million in guaranteed money.
KC's Justin Houston signed a 6-year, $101M deal that includes $52.5M GTD, richest Chiefs' deal in history, richest LB deal in NFL history.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 15, 2015
This deal makes Houston the second-highest paid defensive player in the NFL only behind Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Houston's deal is richer than Houston Texan's defensive end J.J. Watt's deal, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackles Gerald McCoy's deal.
So when the Broncos and Von Miller begin discussions for a new deal, Von's agent is going to look at Houston's deal as a benchmark or possibly even a starting point for negotiations.
Obviously, John Elway and the Broncos know Miller's value, and what it will probably take to secure him, and they have a plan in place to get him signed.
"We are always planning for the future. Everyone talks about us winning now, and my point is that we want to win from now on. When we go through our budget meetings year in and year out, that is what we look at. We have a three-year plan and a four-year plan, and we try to look into the future to see where we are in order to budget everybody to keep all of our great football players. That is what we want to do—draft well, keep our own and fill in with free agency where we can. D.T. was the first step. We will have a plan for Von next year as well as with other players. We have several other really good football players coming into their last year. We’ll monitor as many as we can. It’s impossible to hold on to everybody in the salary cap era, but we’re going to do the very best we can to keep them all."
I would expect the Broncos to start talking(if they haven't already) with Von's agent during Training Camp. I would be surprised if anything is agreed on before the start of the season.
Comparing Von Miller to Justin Houston:
Justin Houston's play on the field is the reason why he received this deal from the Chiefs. So let's compare Von Miller's career production to Houston's career production since they were drafted in 2011.
Von Miller: 225 tackles, 49 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, and 1 interception
Justin Houston: 235 tackles, 48.5 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 1 interception
Looking at the stats alone, Miller has a slight edge in sacks and forced fumbles, but overall they're rather even. So it's safe to assume that Miller will be asking for a contract near or above what Houston received.
Von Miller's 2015 season:
What really helped Houston get this mega-deal from the Chiefs was his performance during 2014. He had a career year and totaled 22 total sacks for the Chiefs defense. If Miller has this type of production, his asking price could sky rocket into highest paid defensive player territory.
Miller will be playing in a 3-4 defense this year, and his production is expected to increase because of this. Von Miller looks at past production as a reason why he will have success in Phillips defense.
"I talked to Wade. I ran the 3-4 in college. DeMarcus had 20 sacks in the 3-4 under Wade Phillips. Under the same coaching staff, Ware had his best production. Shawne Merriman played well in it," Miller said. "Everybody who has played in his system has been successful. I am looking to have some of that same success."
If Miller has this type of production this season, he could easily become the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.