Like most Denver Broncos fans, I assumed the contract talks between John Elway and Von Miller stalled out like most franchise-tagged player contracts tend to stall out. However, Chris Robinson of Yahoo! sports suggested that this one could get ugly.
Multiple league sources have spelled it out at this stage: The Broncos want to slot Miller ahead of Houston, but below Suh, somewhere in the neighborhood of $18 million per season. At this moment, that hasn't gotten the deal done because the market changed this offseason. Specifically, the New York Giants blew out the contract of edge rusher Olivier Vernon, putting him on a $17-million-per-year plateau. The Broncos have bucked the market, getting "priced out" of their own free agents in Malik Jackson, Brock Osweiler and Danny Trevathan. Now Denver is looking at a changed market for edge rushers with the Vernon deal, and confronted with a serious question: If the market dictates that Vernon is worth $17 million per season, what is Miller worth? The Broncos' answer to that will dictate how difficult their next round of negotiations with Miller will be. And it's not looking like an easy deal.
If that is the case, then the Broncos entered free agency expecting one thing and ended up with something completely different. After losing three potentially critical starters on their roster, Elway and the Broncos have apparently entered a standoff with Miller over what the Broncos want and what the market is dictating.
Normally, I would be supportive of Elway's "Moneyball" approach to building a roster, but there are exceptions to every rule. Peyton Manning and his $100 million contract was an exception in 2012 and Von Miller's likely $100 million contract this year will also be an exception. Elway will need to make Miller the highest player defensive player in the NFL. Until then, Miller should not even consider showing up to the Broncos offseason program.
A win for Elway with this negotiation would look something like $20 million a year, but $17-$18 just shouldn't get the job done in this case. Miller is a transcendent talent on a surefire path to end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You just don't fool around over a couple million a year when the guy like that is in his prime.