With rumors swirling around Von Miller’s future with the Denver Broncos, what is his NFL contract status heading into 2021? Let’s look at his contract, the impact on the Broncos’ salary cap, and their options when it comes to Von Miller this offseason.
Von Miller’s contract details and bonuses
Von Miller and the Denver Broncos signed a six-year contract in 2016. The contract was worth $114.5 million at signing, with $70 million having been guaranteed in total. The deal contained a $17.5 million signing bonus as part of $42 million in guarantees at signing. The remainder of the fully guaranteed money was a $6 million roster bonus in 2016 and the $18.5 million in salary that Von Miller would earn in the first two years.
The remaining guarantees in Miller’s deal were set to take effect in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. However, Von Miller and the Broncos restructured the deal ahead of the 2018 season. Miller converted $16.5 million of his 2018 salary into a restructure bonus. The restructure saved $12.375 million in 2018. However, it increased Miller’s cap number by $4.125 million in each of the next three seasons.
Miller’s contract length is a club option for one more year
Miller’s six-year deal was set to run through to the end of the 2021 season. However, the final two years of the deal are club options. The option was picked up in 2020, and the Broncos have until the final day of the 2020 league year (March 16th) to exercise the 2021 option.
If the Broncos exercise the final option on Von Miller’s contract, $7 million of his 2021 salary will become guaranteed.
What impact does Miller’s deal have on the Broncos’ salary cap?
Von Miller is set to have a salary cap number of $22.125 million in 2021. $17.5 million of that is set to be base salary, with $4.125 million in prorated bonus money from the contract restructure in 2018. The final $0.5 million is a workout bonus.
As of February 17th, the Broncos are set to have around $32 million in cap space this season. Therefore, the Broncos have no urgency to release Von Miller and clear his contract from their books for the 2021 season.
Can the Broncos move on from Von Miller’s contract this offseason?
The Broncos have a handful of options for Von Miller’s contract in the 2021 offseason. They could realistically handle the next few months in a number of ways, including keeping Miller, declining his option, trading him, releasing him ahead of the season, or extending his deal. Let’s take a look at the impact of those options.
What would the Broncos be left with if they decline the option in Von Miller’s contract?
If a clean break is what the Broncos are after, then declining Von Miller’s contract option is the simplest option. Until that option is picked up, none of the money owed to Miller is guaranteed.
Therefore, declining the option would save the Broncos $18 million in cap space in 2021. They would be left with $4.125 million in prorated bonus from the contract restructure in 2018. That would mean the Broncos enter free agency with close to $50 million in salary cap space in 2021.
What does a trade look like for the Broncos and the team potentially acquiring Von Miller and his contract?
Miller is certainly talented enough that a team would be willing to acquire him via trade. With just one year remaining on his deal, there are two options: A) a team on the up who is looking to trade for and extend Von Miller’s contract beyond 2021, or B) a team expected to challenge in 2022 and have the luxury of taking on Miller for one year and can decide his fit the subsequent offseason.
In the event of a trade, the Broncos would be left with the same $4.125 million in dead money as they would be declining the option. The remaining $18 million would go with Miller to his new team. $18 million for a single season of Von Miller will certainly be intriguing for several teams.
Could the Broncos pick up the option and then cut Miller later in the offseason?
If the Broncos have not decided how they want to handle Von Miller’s situation, they could pick up the option year in his contract.
While this would guarantee a further $7 million of Von Miller’s salary for 2021, it gives them time to explore a trade further. If the Broncos then decided to cut Miller, they would be left with $11.125 million in dead money. However, that would still save the Broncos $11 million compared to having Miller on the team all season.
A contract restructure or extension is perhaps the most desirable option
According to Pro Football Network Insider Benjamin Allbright, a contract extension or restructure for Von Miller is believed to be the favorable option for the Broncos. With just one year on the deal, a basic restructuring of the deal is not possible. However, the Broncos put together an extension that is essentially a restructure. By adding void years to the deal, the Broncos could reduce the $18 million salary and workout bonus due in 2021.
While this would technically be an extension, it would serve as a restructure. The Broncos would not have Miller in 2022, but they would shift some of his cap hit into that season. Feasibly, the Broncos could move as much as $13.54 million of his 2021 cap hit into 2022. If the Broncos added four void years to the deal, they could reduce Von Miller’s salary cap hit to $8.5 million.
They could reduce his salary to the veteran minimum of $1.075 million and pay the remaining $16.925 as a restructure bonus. That bonus would prorate at $3.285 million per year over five seasons. However, when Von Miller’s contract voided, all of that would accelerate onto the 2022 salary cap. Therefore, the Broncos would be left with $13.14 million in dead money in 2022 (when the salary cap will theoretically be more forgiving).
The other options include something similar to, but to a lesser extent, a traditional restructure. A less extreme void-year strategy would be to add one or two years to the deal. That would reduce the savings in 2021, but also reduce the cap hit in 2022. A traditional restructure could save as much as $13.54 million, according to Over the Cap.
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