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Von Miller and the NFL Exclusive Franchise Tag: The No Bull Review

Shining the crystal ball regarding what can and can not happen in the franchise tag negotiations for Von Miller.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The sky is falling. The enemy is out there circling the Broncos and waiting to pounce on its prized franchise player. Von Miller really has the team up against a wall, and if the team doesn't do something, it is at risk of losing him.

I've heard some pretty wild talk (as we always do with franchise tagged players) this year. I always try to brush it off and be patient because at the end of the day, the story is normally the same. The deadline will approach, compromise will happen, and this tagged player is going nowhere.

There's been some writing though that for me has struck a nerve because it doesn't feel completely open and honest. Let's look at a couple of the recent articles that have had the orange and blue hitting the panic button:

Monday Morning QB 6-8-16

If Miller is willing to sit out the season, per a union source, the Broncos can’t exclusive tag him again.

They can put the non-exclusive tag on him, at the normal tag rate, but the comp for another team to sign him then drops from two first-round picks to a first and a third, which some team may well being willing to pay.

Now, I’m not saying Miller would be willing to sit out the year. What I am saying is there is some motivation to do so tucked in the rules.

Pro Football Talk "Potential Von Miller holdout has an intriguing twist"

If the Broncos and linebacker Von Miller don’t strike a long-term deal by July 15, his best option could be to sit out the entire season and sign an offer sheet with another team next year, when: (1) the Broncos would be unable to use the exclusive franchise tag on Miller; and (2) the compensation for signing him away from Denver would drop to a first- and a third-round draft pick.

The No Bull full picture

Let me start off and do everyone out there in Broncos Country (and those who follow lesser NFL teams) a favor and give you a link to the most recent CBA (where you'll find the rules governing how the franchise tags work). I'm not here to hype a slanted story that is going to give you all something to fret over. I'm here to get us down to brass tacks and real useful perspective instead of dressed-up cow patties.

What they got right:

  1. Von Miller can opt to sit out this season, and the Broncos will be unable to use the "exclusive rights" tag on him (See Article 10, Section 15, Subsection c note that it references Section 2(a)(i) which is referencing the non-exclusve designation).
  2. If Von does sit out a year, the compensation to the team - even though he would be a nonexclusive designation - would only be a first- and third-round pick instead of the typical two first-round picks that the nonexclusive tag usually carries with it (see the same paragraph).

What they failed to mention that in my mind leaves their stories a bit flaccid:

"...the applicable Tender must be made and any 120% Tender shall be measured from the Player’s Prior Year Salary"

Let's pump the brakes here a second.  What did you say? He wouldn't get the average of the top 5 highest paid linebackers?

Let's get back to reality. Here's what Miller made in his final year of his rookie contract: $9,754,000 (See this contract's details at

So some quick math (120% of $9,754,000) puts his 2017 contract number at $11,704,800.

But let's keep digging, because if he sits out 2016, that means he misses out on 100% of his $14,129,000 2016 franchise tag contract.

That's right, Broncos Country. Other NFL teams are "wink-winking" at Von, asking him to lose out on at least $16,553,200 and one of his prime years of NFL football because they are going to take care of him.

And if you believe that is going to happen, I have some swampland in Florida I'd like to sell you.

Here's another thing worth mentioning

If Von sits out part of the season but signs his tag before the first day of the 10th week of the NFL season, the Broncos can still use the exclusive tag on him in year two. The only way he escapes the exclusive tag is if he sits out a season, wads up more than 14 million clams and tosses them in a fire.

Closing thoughts and why Broncos Country shouldn't worry

These deals get done in worse situations than we have here in Denver in 2016. It happened with Dez, DT, and Justin Houston just last year.  Do players sometimes hold out and make a scene? Yes, but I'd almost dare Von to do that. I kinda want Elway to hold his ground anyway, after all.

But at the end of the day, Von doesn't hate the Broncos. Von wants to get paid money and him sitting out is absolutely going to cost him money that he will not make back.

Rest easy, Broncos Country. You can start to worry later in the afternoon on July 15th.