Yippee! Hooray! Von Miller has been signed long term, and we Broncos fans can look forward to watching him wearing the orange and blue while terrorizing opposing quarterbacks for the foreseeable future. Now it's time to look at his contract numbers and how they will impact the Broncos' salary cap in 2016 and future years.
When news of his contract details broke, there were a couple of conflicting sets of numbers, but now the major cap and contract sources seem to be agreeing on numbers and details. So it's time for me to credit and provide links to those sources. They include Mike Klis of KUSA, overthecap.com, spotrac.com, and the NFLPA public salary cap report.
Miller's contract breakdown
Miller's new deal is a six-year contract worth $114.5 million in total potential value, an average of $19.0833 million per year. It contains a $17 million signing bonus, which will prorate at $3.4 million per year over the first five years. There is a $6 million 2016 roster bonus, and the rest of the money consists of base salaries and other miscellaneous bonuses (looks like possible workout bonuses) to be paid out over the course of the contract.
In the contract, $42 million is fully guaranteed (for injury, cap, and skill) at signing, consisting of the $17 million signing bonus, the $6 million 2016 roster bonus, $2 million in 2016 base salary and any miscellaneous bonuses, as well as the $17 million in 2017 base salary and any miscellaneous bonuses. An additional $19 million consisting of the 2018 base salary and any miscellaneous bonuses is initially guaranteed for injury, and it guarantees fully in March 2017, resulting in a total of $61 million of fully guaranteed money in the first two years of the contract. Another $9 million of the 2019 base salary fully guarantees in March 2018, resulting in a total of $70 million of fully guaranteed money in the first three years of the contract.
2016 (Year 1):
In 2016 Von will receive $25 million consisting of the $17 million signing bonus, a $6 million roster bonus, and $2 million in base salary. His cap hit will be $11.4 million, consisting of $3.4 million in prorated signing bonus + the $6 million roster bonus + the $2 million in base salary. Since the price of the franchise tag was $14.129 million, the Broncos just gained $2.729 million in 2016 cap space (14.129 - 11.4 = 2.729). His dead money is $42 million - ALL of the initially fully guaranteed money.
2017 (Year 2):
In 2017 Von will receive $17 million in base salary. His cap hit will be $20.4 million, consisting of the $17 million salary + $3.4 million in prorated signing bonus. If he were to be released prior to the "trigger" date in March for cap or skill issues, the dead money would be $30.6 million (the 2017 salary of $17M + $13.6M in remaining prorated signing bonus). If he were to be released due to injury, or after the "trigger" date in March, the dead money would be $49.6 million since the 2018 salary of $19 million would then be guaranteed.
2018 (Year 3):
In 2018 Von will receive $19 million in base salary. His cap hit will be $22.4 million, consisting of the $19 million salary + $3.4 million in prorated signing bonus. If he were to be released before the "trigger" date in March, the dead money would be $29.2 million (the 2018 salary of $19 million + $10.2 million in remaining prorated signing bonus). If he were to be released after the "trigger" date in March, the dead money would be $38.2 million since $9 million of his 2019 salary would then be guaranteed.
2019 (Year 4):
In 2019 Von will receive $17.5 million in base salary. His cap hit will be $20.9 million consisting of the $17.5 million salary + $3.4M in prorated signing bonus. The dead money would be $15.8 million (the $9 million of his 2019 base salary that became fully guaranteed + $6.8 million in remaining prorated signing bonus).
2020 (Year 5):
In 2020 Von will receive $17.5 million in base salary + a $0.5 million workout bonus. The cap hit will be $21.4 million consisting of $18 million in salary and workout bonus + the last $3.4 million in prorated signing bonus. The dead money would be $3.4 million (the last of the remaining prorated signing bonus).
2021 (Year 6):
In 2021 Von will receive $17.5 million in base salary + a $0.5 million workout bonus. The cap hit will be $18 million. The dead money will be zero.
Additional thoughts and disclaimers about the contract as presented:
Obviously, I cannot guarantee that all these numbers and details are 100 percent correct since I am relying upon reports about the contract and have not seen the actual document. I'm a little surprised that there is no option-year being reported in the contract since Elway has tended to include option years in other recent big contracts.
As presented, this could easily be viewed as a four-year contract for $78.5 million (an average of $19.625 million per year) since the dead money in year five is only $3.4 million. So it would have made sense for 2019 to be an option year that would trigger the final two years of the contract if the option were to be exercised. If something were to go drastically wrong, the Broncos could potentially bail out on the contract after year three since the year four cap hit is $5.1 million more than the year four dead money.
I imagine that the contract probably contains a clause allowing the Broncos to restructure the contract at any time by converting base salary into restructure bonus that would prorate for cap purposes. Players don't generally object to that type of restructure since it takes no money out of their pockets, gives them more guaranteed money up front, and increases their security by increasing potential dead money down the road. Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr. and Demaryius Thomas all have that type of clause in their contracts. I also think spotrac or overthecap should hire me if Elway doesn't since it looks to me like they made some egregious math errors when it came to calculating dead money.
Salary Cap Update:
Prior to Von's contract getting done, the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report showed the Broncos with $3.370 million in top 51 cap space. Since Von's new 2016 cap hit is $2.729 million less than it would have been under the franchise tag, the Broncos should now have $6.099 million in 2016 cap space. The NFLPA site is often slower to update its numbers than spotrac or Overthecap, but many believe it is more accurate. And to the best of my recollection, Von's deal is the first deal affecting the Broncos 2016 cap since they extended Brandon Marshall, so I'm going to assume that the $3.370 million number was accurate.
Now for the obligatory poll: