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What should the Broncos do with Von Miller this year?

The Denver Broncos have to make a decision with Von Miller, but it might be wise to hold off on that decision until 2022.

NFL: Denver Broncos-Training Camp Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In our most contentious debate yet, Scotty Payne, Joe Rowles, and myself discuss the edge rusher situation for the Denver Broncos heading into the 2021 league year. The contention and disagreement mostly surrounded the future of Von Miller. Not so much his future after 2021, just what we each thought the team should do with him now.

The only free agent in this group is Jeremiah Attaochu, whose future we didn’t really discuss. However, if the Broncos could get him back cheap that would really help this position group remain a strength in 2021. Anyway, let’s get into the debate.

Broncos outside linebacker position group

Player Position Height Weight Age Contract Status
Player Position Height Weight Age Contract Status
Chubb, Bradley OLB 6' 04" 269 24 Signed through 2021*
Tuszka, Derrek OLB 6' 04" 251 23 Signed through 2021
Attaochu, Jeremiah OLB 6' 03" 252 28 UFA
Miller, Von OLB 6' 03" 246 31 Signed through 2021*
Reed, Malik OLB 6' 01" 240 24 Signed through 2021

Scotty Payne: First, it starts with Von Miller. He has an option that can be declined making him a free agent. I’m personally leaning towards declining that option and letting him walk or exploring a trade if possible. It sucks and I know we all want to keep our beloved players on the team until they retire but it’s time for both to part ways. The Broncos are a few years at most away from winning and freeing up $18 million in cap could be beneficial to a team that is needing a rebuild on defense.

He’ll be turning 32 years old in March and is potentially dealing with legal/personal issues off the field. I say it’s time.

As for the rest, Chubb impressed this past year and hopefully, he can build off that performance in the offseason. Malik Reed was also a solid replacement for Miller. If Von is to go, he would be the in-house option to replace him.

I’d expect an edge rusher to be drafted regardless of Von’s option being picked up or declined, but if Von does walk, an edge rusher in the first-round becomes a real possibility.

Tim Lynch: I absolutely disagree on Von Miller. The team should let him play out his contract. The Denver defense will be better in 2021 with him than without him.

Instead, the bigger decision is getting Bradley Chubb’s fifth-year option exercised by May 2nd. He isn’t quite as dominant as Von Miller was at this stage in his career, but he’s good enough to get that second contract. That makes exercising the fifth-year option an obvious decision.

Malik Reed filled in nicely down the stretch, but the pressure was decidedly lacking without Von on the field. I hate that he is entering the final year of his contract, but he’ll likely command too high of a price to keep on the roster after this season. But if Drew Lock is the guy this season, the Broncos will need all of the defensive help they can get in 2021 to make a playoff run.

Joe Rowles: I’m on the fence with Miller. If the Broncos actually want to compete this year he clearly makes them a better defense. In 2019 he had almost three times as many individual pass pressures as any other member of the roster. That said if the Broncos are just pretending to compete with Drew Lock this year, trading Von Miller could make a ton of sense if they can net any draft capital to find the QB search in 2022.Beyond that? I don’t want to speculate on Miller’s legal situation. So long as that doesn’t change the math I’d be all for picking up his team option and rolling with him in 2021.

Even if his team option is picked up, Miller’s contract expires after 2021 and it’s no guarantee he remains past that. Bradley Chubb will almost surely play out a fifth year option. If the Broncos keep Miller around I believe they need to look to the draft to bring in a prospect to compete with Derrek Tuszka behind Malik Reed in hopes that some of the young talent continues to develop.

If Miller is not retained? Edge becomes as big a priority as off ball linebacker currently is. Maybe more so because it’s a more important position.

Scotty: Reports are out there saying they’re going to approach Von about a potential pay cut. If those are true and he declines (I mean, why wouldn’t he?) Then his time with the team Is ultimately over. He’s a Texas guy and would likely love to finish his career with the Cowboys. If you can work out a trade, do that too. Paton expressed his desire to collect draft picks and build through the draft. One way of doing that is dealing high priced veterans in the final year of their deals for a few picks.

As for Chubb’s fifth-year option... It’s definitely being picked up. He played well this past season and earned a spot on the Pro Bowl team. He’s a piece you build around.

Tim: Von might consider if the deal involving an extension and more guaranteed money. I’d be supportive of a restructure that involves Von potentially retiring a Bronco while reducing his overall salary by $3-4 million a year or so. You can’t tell me DeMarcus Ware from age 32-35 wasn’t worth the $11 million a year he got from Denver.

Joe: No guarantee, but if Miller returns from his 2020 injury in 2019 form, the $22,125,000 he’ll make this season is money well spent.

Scotty: Denver was a SB contender when they picked up Ware. They’re at the very best a 6th or 7th seed right now. Keeping Von will make fans hearts all warm and fuzzy... But like CHJ, Talib and others from that SB 50 defense, it’s time to move on. The Broncos aren’t in the position to keep aging vets on the roster. The defense needs a draft or two focused on it much like Elway did with the offense. Trim away at the aging vets (Von, Casey, Bouye, Jackson) and draft/develop the youth on the roster.

Tim: Overall I agree with you, but I don’t think it is wise to do all of that in a single offseason. I think A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey are obvious for this year, but Kareem Jackson and Von Miller are decisions best left for next season. You’ve got to draft and develop guys for a year before they are ready anyway.

Joe: No guarantee, but if Miller returns from his 2020 injury in 2019 form, the $22,125,000 he’ll make this season is money well spent.

Where I disagree with Tim is that it’s hard to say in a vacuum. I think the Broncos are on the precipice of a decision that will shape how they have to approach this roster for the next two or three seasons.

If they want to chase a Matthew Stafford or Deshaun Watson, they are clearly “all in” on 2021.

Tim: I feel like all of this quarterback chatter is ultimately going to be a waste of time. George Paton will take this mulligan year to prove to the previous administration that their faith in Drew Lock was misplaced and move forward from there. However, keeping Von around would at least give Vic Fangio a fighting shot at remaining as head coach beyond this season despite the issues at the quarterback position.

Joe: If they do anything else it comes down to long term planning. If you believe in a rookie and go get him, those veterans make sense as a support structure. If you believe that Lock will turn into a franchise passer it’s a similar story.

If the plan with Lock is bring in someone who will ultimately supplant him such as Nick Foles I believe the Broncos are best served cutting out the parachute as much as possible so the QB yo-yo will bring them to a 2022 rookie.

In that scenario - I believe the smart play is to trade everyone who has value to net 2022 draft picks, even if I doubt the Broncos ultimately do it.

Scotty: The mulligan stuff sounds like some radio created BS people are using to create a reason for Lock returning as the starter in 2021.I agree with Joe for the most part. I’m pushing the blow up button though. I doubt they get a Watson or Stafford and my confidence in Lock is low so start that rebuild now Paton.

The only real kicker here is that Fangio is coaching for his job. That could delay a rebuild. A new GM should be paired with their HC to avoid this lame duck/Mulligan nonsense.

Tim: The best case scenario if Drew Lock isn’t the guy long term (I don’t think he is) is for the Broncos to compete and finish close to .500 under Fangio so he can continue the rebuild he kind of began with Elway when he was hired.

Paton comes from a system that was very good at stockpiling first round picks. Hopefully they get that process going this year.

Joe: My one problem with that approach Tim is how letting a defense and supporting cast carry a bad QB can push you into a situation like the Bears find themselves in. They’re too far away from the top of the 2021 QB class to have much of a chance and they’re too capped out to upgrade on Mitch Trubisky.

Scotty: Paton needs to learn from Elway’s mistakes. Less veteran bandaids and more draft/developing. Trim that fat now, and use that cap to acquire young FA talent to build around.

We’re driving into the QB talk, but the best case for a rebuild would not be to finish around .500. You need a top 5 pick for a QB. Picking later keeps us in this purgatory of being not good enough for the postseason but just good enough to draft a top QB prospect.

As for Fangio... He’s most likely gone at the end of 2021. He has been dealt a shitty hand.

Joe: We are but I think it’s necessary for really approaching some of these position groups. It’s impossible to ignore how the quarterback can influence the decision on Von Miller.

Scotty: I’m leaning on them not getting a high priced vet, probably being a 5-7 win team and blowing everything but Paton up at the end of 2021. So, sell whatever pieces you can now.

Tim: Well back to the original topic. Keeping Von Miller in 2021 is a good choice. His contract probably limits his trade value and cutting him has a chunk of dead money associated with it, so you might as well let him play out his contract and take the 2023 comp pick.

Scotty: Von’s dead money is “only” $4 million. It will free up $18 million that can be used to add youth to the roster. $4,125,000 to be exact. Simmons potential contract alone eats up much of that savings.

Tim: Cutting Bouye and Casey has zero dead money and frees up $25 million. There is no harm in keep Von.

Who else would they target in free agency? And why would they go on a free agent spending spree right now?

Scotty: Shelby Harris. Courtland Sutton is in the final year of his deal. Bradley Chubb could make a case for an extension. They carried over that 2020 cap for a reason.

Tim: I think Bouye and Casey along with the rollover leaves them with plenty of room for Simmons and Harris, but there’s no need to rush on Chubb. They can exercise the option and then work on an extension next offseason.

Scotty: This is a classic case of a fan not wanting their favorite player to leave. We have dealt with this the past few seasons. Talib, CHJ, and now Von.

It sucks on the fan side of things, but on the business side, it doesn’t make sense keeping an expensive 32-year old pass rusher who will likely walk next year anyways. Especially when you have low confidence in Lock being the guy.

Only way it makes sense is if they can acquire a Stafford or Watson .

Tim: I’ve already said Von is likely gone after next year. My point is there is no rush to push him out the door if the plan is to try to compete in 2021. I get it though, you’ve hit the “nuke it” button already.

Scotty: I hit the nuke it button after like week two if we’re being completely honest. Broncos are half assing a nuke it scenario right now. They need to decide if they’re “going for it” (again) or focus on a rebuild and the future.

We have gone off topic.

  • Von - gone this year or next.
  • Chubb - If he stays healthy, you build around him.
  • Malik Reed - Proved to be at least a passable starter and good depth.
  • Tuszka - Likely just camp/PS fodderThey need to draft an edger rusher sometime in the first three rounds regardless of what they do with Von.

Tim: That about sums it up. lol

Scotty: Yup! Good talk. Shit, I’ve turned into Stokley with the #TradeVon narrative push.

What I would do

I think I pretty much argued hard for what I would do here regarding Von Miller. It hurts nothing to let him play out his final year. The contract and his age likely makes a trade impossible, so just let him contribute and be the elite player he still is even on the decline and get the compensatory pick for him after he leaves for free agency in 2022.

Bradley Chubb will have his option exercised, but there is no need to rush to an extension. They can use the money from Miller leaving next year to get an extension in place for Chubb at that point. The priority this offseason has to be signing Justin Simmons and extending Courtland Sutton.

If Jeremiah Attaochu can be had at a reasonable contract level, then great, but I like the Broncos situation at edge rusher right now. If they add another guy in the 2021 NFL Draft then they should be good to go there.

What do you think the Broncos should do with the edge rusher position this offseason? Specifically, what should they do with Von Miller?

Poll

What should the Broncos do with Von Miller?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Nothing, let him play out his contract
    (526 votes)
  • 33%
    Release him (frees up $18m in cap)
    (664 votes)
  • 40%
    Get him an extension to retire a Bronco
    (797 votes)
1987 votes total Vote Now