What's a defending Super Bowl Champion team without a starting quarterback? That would be the 2016 Denver Broncos. What happens when that same team loses their franchise's best defensive player in recent memory? That is something the Broncos are hoping to figure out before the league franchise tag deadline on July 15th, less than two weeks from the date of this writing.
For those that don't know, the franchise tag is simple: any NFL player about to become a free agent, like Von Miller, can be designated the "franchise player" for their team and can be signed to basically a one-year contract. The money they make on that one year contract is based on the average salary of their position. None of it is fully guaranteed, which is important in a sport where serious injuries can happen fast. For Miller, the average salary for his position (Outside Linebacker) would be much, much less than what he desires, and in my opinion, what he has earned.
In Von Miller's case, he has two options: 1) sign the franchise tender he received from Denver, or, as he has stated to the media, 2) sit out the 2016 season until Denver agrees to make him the highest paid defensive player in the history of the NFL, regardless of position. Miller wants more guaranteed money for his contract, since he faces double teams almost every play and would likely be injured within the next 1-2 years, making it hard to earn incentive-based money.
His argument is strong; Denver needs all the help they can get this season. Peyton Manning, already looking too old to play at a high level, finally retired. Brock Osweiler, the next QB on the depth chart, now plays for the Houston Texans. Basically, Denver needs all the help they can get to remain effective. Miller makes his money rushing the passer and causing chaos for offenses. Denver's defense, which basically won them Super Bowl 50, is nowhere near as effective without number 58 drawing attention and making life hard for the other team.
Wait, did I forget to mention? Von Miller was Super Bowl 50's MVP. Not Cam Newton, who won NFL MVP. Not Peyton Manning, who was lucky to even be in the game. Miller won the MVP award by single-handedly beating the best team in the NFL. Denver does not win Super Bowl 50 without him. My opinion? Pay the man his money. He's obviously worth it.
The contract deadline is July 15th. As of this writing, Von Miller and Denver have yet to agree on a guaranteed amount of money. They need to come to an agreement soon, or Denver's season will be tough with Miller watching from the sidelines.
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