- Covered Broncos for nine years for Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News
- Previously covered Steelers, Bills and Titans
- Member of Pro Football Hall of Fame Board
of Selectors since 1999
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After 135 games, 106 sacks, eight Pro Bowls and one glorious Super Bowl MVP award, linebacker Von Miller’s dance-filled run with the Denver Broncos will go on for at least one more season.
The Broncos elected to exercise an option clause in Miller’s contract that guarantees $7 million of Miller’s $17.5 million base salary for the 2021 season, sources told ESPN.
The move engages the final year of the six-year, $114.5 million contract Miller signed in 2016.
The Broncos had informed Miller, who will turn 32 later this month, and Miller’s representatives of the decision in recent days. Tuesday was the deadline to exercise the option or Miller would have been an unrestricted free agent. The two sides had discussed reworking the deal in recent weeks because Miller’s $22.2 million salary-cap charge will be the highest on the team.
The Broncos simply posted an image Tuesday morning on their social media accounts of a smiling Miller taken immediately following the team’s Super Bowl 50 win with confetti falling in the background.
Free agency officially opens Wednesday afternoon.
However, given the deals for pass-rushers that were revealed Monday on the first day of the negotiating period — many between $16 million and $18 million per year — Miller’s salary falls in line with the market.
On March 4, Broncos general manager George Paton said the team wanted Miller back for 2021 but was still waiting on the results of an investigation by the Parker, Colorado, police department to determine whether Miller would be charged with a crime. The next day, the 18th Judicial District attorney’s office said it declined to file charges.
Miller is the Broncos’ longest-tenured, most decorated player. Miller was an NFL All-Decade selection for the 2010s, has been selected to the most Pro Bowls of any Broncos player since Hall of Famer Champ Bailey and is one of three players in franchise history to win a Super Bowl MVP award.
His 106 career sacks lead all active players — J.J. Watt is second — and he is the Broncos’ all-time leader in sacks and forced fumbles (25).
Miller has spent some time working out in California since the season’s end and is fully recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out of the 2020 season. He suffered a tendon injury in his ankle in practice just days before the season opener. He had missed just one game in his previous six seasons.
Miller was John Elway’s first draft pick as the Broncos’ top football decision-maker when the Broncos selected Miller No. 2 overall — behind Cam Newton — in the 2011 draft. With 11.5 sacks that year, Miller was named the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year and selected for the first of eight Pro Bowls.
The 2013 season has been the only year Miller played in a game for the Broncos and was not selected to the Pro Bowl.
His Super Bowl 50 performance is on the franchise’s short list of greatest individual games. Miller had 2.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and knocked down a pass deep in coverage. One of his forced fumbles was recovered for a touchdown, and the other the Broncos recovered on the Carolina Panthers’ 9-yard line, leading to another Broncos touchdown four plays later.
Former Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has called Miller “one of the greatest players to ever play his position … he can rush the passer like few I’ve ever seen.”
In April 2020, Miller was the first NFL player to publicly say he had battled COVID-19 — he said “I was scared as hell” — and he was one of the Broncos’ leading voices on social justice issues, including writing an essay for Time magazine that closed with “Say their names. Hands up. Don’t shoot. I can’t breathe.”
Asked last summer about how much longer he thought he would play, Miller said: “If you still have a passion for it and you’re still doing it at a high level, I don’t think I should even think about not playing. I still feel like I’m able to compete; I still feel like I’m fast, most importantly. As long as I can keep doing that, I’m going to play. … Every year I get to play, every play I get to play, I’ll just keep pushing, and at the end I’ll see how many [years] it is and I’ll look up and I’ll be cool with that.”
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