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Should the Broncos trade Von Miller?

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The cost outweighs the benefits.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos
Von Miller is a future Hall of Famer. He’s also an All-Time Great Bronco.
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

With the Broncos falling to 0-4 and with a murderer’s row of a schedule ahead of them, the boo birds have started their transformation into a wake of vultures.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk was the most recent example of this new strategy by the national media when he suggested the Broncos trade off Von Miller on Wednesday.

Denver’s 0-4 start to the season based on the next four games (at Chargers, Titans, Chiefs, at Colts) could become 2-6 or 1-7 or even 0-8. Two days after that eighth game, the trade window closes. If/when (when) it’s clear that the Broncos have no chance to make it to the playoffs, why not consider dumping salaries and obtaining draft picks for players who likely won’t be around by the time what has become a disaster in Denver turns competitive again?

The most valuable asset is Super Bowl 50’s Most Valuable Player. Von Miller, who turned 30 earlier this year, is signed through 2021 at salaries of $17 million this year, $17.5 million next year, and $17.5 million in the final year of his deal. As the market currently goes, that’s a fairly attractive price for a guy who may still be able to do plenty of damage in the right defense. Maybe there’s a contender that would give up a pair of first-round picks for him.

It’s a tempting offer at first glance. Two first round picks could certainly help the Broncos’ rebuilding efforts, especially if Elway deems quarterback a need and looks to take another stab at a signal caller in 2020 or 2021.

What Florio (intentionally?) overlooks, however is the sheer cost of the move to the Broncos. To get an idea of the financial ramifications to such a move, I looked at Overthecap.

Trading Miller at the deadline would carry one of the larger cap penalties in recent NFL history.
Trading Miller after June 1 would be more palatable to the cap.

As you can see from the images above, moving Von Miller at the deadline as Florio suggests would carry almost $20 million in dead cap. From a purely financial aspect, it’s not the kind of move teams make with productive players. The Pittsburgh Steelers ate a $21.1 million cap hit to move Antonio Brown last spring, but did so because of locker room and chemistry concerns. I suspect the John Elway wouldn’t consider this, even with the Broncos likely to have more than $50 million in cap room in 2020.

So even if you’re willing and able to dehumanize Miller enough to look at his value through a cost/return lens, it seems unlikely he’ll play in another uniform in 2019. If you stop to consider what he means to the Broncos beyond his on-field production/trade value, a potential Miller trade doesn’t just look impossible, but irresponsible.

There’s no doubt about it, Von Miller is the face of the Broncos. He has been one of the two best players on every single roster since at least 2014, and arguably before that as well. It’s no coincidence that the Broncos defense moved from a bottom three unit towards league average upon his arrival in 2011 and has been a top ten unit since in every other year he played a full season until now.

Over the course of their 60 year history, the Broncos have won three championships and been to eight others. You don’t contend for that many Lombardis without some All-Time Greats. On defense alone, there’s been Steve Atwater, Champ Bailey, Karl Mecklenberg, Tom Jackson, Randy Gradishar. I could go on: Wright, Smith, Pryce, Wilson. Von Miller stands out among them.

The 2015 defense isn’t anywhere near great enough to carry Manning to a title without Miller’s dominance through the playoffs and Super Bowl 50. Von is clearly one of best Broncos ever, and his mark is all over the franchise history. His records for sacks, forced fumbles, and tackles for a loss tell part of the story, but only part. Not only did he secure Peyton Manning a second title, but he’s clearly been the face of the franchise since the Sheriff rode off into the sunset.

Super Bowl 50 was Von Miller at his absolute best. He would not be denied.

Trading that player would carry with it real damage to John Elway’s legacy as a General Manager. At the end of the day, every player knows the NFL is a business first and foremost, and yet trading Von Miller would mark the Broncos. It would be a stain on the franchise that free agents and current players wouldn’t forget.

Let there be no mistake, dumping 58 would hurt the locker room. His leadership shows every time the young edge players rush a passer. Bradley Chubb’s work with Von this off-season was clearly showing up in his tape prior to the ACL tear against Jacksonville. There would be a void that draft capital does little to repair.

Maybe I’m just a fan, and maybe I can’t see the justification to trading Von Miller because he’s my favorite player. Perhaps at 1-7 or god forbid 0-8 Von wants out and the Broncos mercifully find him a way to chase a ring. I suspect even then I’d grieve.

It may just be folly, but I don’t think the Broncos are so far off that Miller won’t still be an integral part of the next contender. And even if I’m wrong, some players are more valuable than draft picks.

Von is one such player.

Your Broncos links

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NFL Draft Links

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