Shedding Salary with the Departing Von; Season Gone?
Image via The Denver Post
In a move that shocked the sports world, the Denver Broncos traded eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker and fan favorite, Von Miller, to the Los Angeles Rams the day before the trade deadline. Miller was one of two remaining Super Bowl 50 players on the team. He was coming up on the tail end of his six-year contract, but many did not expect him to leave Denver even after his contract was up. Fans and players, alike, debated how Denver’s big trade would affect the team.
The Broncos were likely not headed to the Playoffs with their 4-4 record, but the news of one of their best players being traded mid-season was surely unexpected. When asked if he had expressed an opinion on the team’s plan for the trade deadline, Coach Fangio revealed he told Broncos General Manager George Paton to “do whatever he needs to do and we're going to coach and coach winning football with what we've got....I've not tried to influence him one way or another.” News of the trade added a match to the flame for fans who were already doubting team leadership and coaching staff’s ability. Many expected the possibility of a drastic change in leadership, but Miller was low on the list of expected casualties. Miller’s departure leaves a hole in team leadership - as the longest-tenured player on the Broncos, Miller helped lead the team on and off the field. Even current Broncos players expressed their disappointment in Miller’s trade.
The news seems to have come as a surprise to Miller, as well. “When I said, 'Broncos for life,' I meant that -- it will always be in my heart,'' Miller said. However, he seems to have a positive outlook on his new team. On his new teammates, Miller said, “Great team... They got a great defense.... I'm excited, [I’ve] always been a great teammate and I'm going to continue to do that." The change of scenery and teaming up with the likes of Aaron Donald will hopefully spark Miller into an even more impressive career.
In Miller’s absence, the Broncos’ salary cap opens up. With the gain of a second-round pick and third-round pick, the Broncos can sign new athletes to help rebuild the franchise. Miller’s contract was worth $114.5 million, signed after he won Super Bowl 50 MVP. Denver agreed to pay $9 million of the $9.7 million left in Miller’s contract, but refraining from re-signing Miller leaves plenty of room for the Broncos to draft up-and-coming talent with the hopes of bringing success back to the franchise. Fans have unsurprisingly come out on either side of the debate. While many mourn the loss of Miller, some think it was the best decision, not only for Miller, but for the Broncos as well. Miller will get to play for a team that is generally considered a Super Bowl contender this season and won’t have to spend another couple of years rebuilding a team he has already spent so much time on.
Meanwhile, the Broncos can recruit fresh faces at a much lower cost. James Merilatt of DenverFan expressed his thoughts on the trade: “It would’ve been foolish for Paton not to make the trade... Miller is in the final year of his deal... It wouldn’t have made any sense for the Broncos to re-sign him even if he wanted to stay. The money could be spent better in other places. They need to get young players on the field.” As much as the fans will miss seeing Miller rep the blue and orange on the field, it seems they understand the need to rebuild.
The Broncos dominated the Dallas Cowboys in a shocking 30-16 game this past weekend, successfully stifling Dallas’ high-powered offense. Fans worried that Denver’s season was over left with hope that things are looking up. Young leaders on the team are stepping up to fill the void left by Miller on defense and in the locker room. With a defense that ranks in the top 5 across the board, it is up to those left to keep the team united and keep moving forward. For Miller, fans will be excited to see him don his old Texas A&M jersey number as he joins the Rams on the field. As Miller said: he went to sleep 4-4, and woke up 7-1.