Last summer was all about Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller but for all the wrong reasons.
This summer, Miller has also been in the news but things are more on the positive side.
The Broncos decided to pick up the option on Miller’s contract making him in Denver for the next two seasons. Many wondered if the Broncos felt comfortable doing that after Miller’s off the field problems.
The linebacker was suspended for the first six games of the season and also was arrested for traffic tickets. He came back to the field at a larger weight and seemed to have lost a step. Then he was injured in the second to last game of the season.
After all the craziness of last season, the Broncos still want Miller on the field in the orange and blue. He has lost the weight and is looking to be ready for the start of the regular season.
But the Broncos could also be looking at picking up Miller’s contract as something else. Denver sees it as a tryout. If Miller shapes up and flies right for these two seasons then the Broncos can talk with him about a big-money deal. If he screws up then he can be someone else’s problem.
Miller is a playmaker that the Broncos want to keep. General Manager John Elway upgraded the defense in free agency around Miller. The Broncos added DeMarcus Ware to rush the passer opposite of Miller. Deep down the Broncos want Miller to be the centerpiece of their defense.
The linebacker is so risky though. He showed an immature side last season that throw the whole Broncos season off track. Sure, Denver made the Super Bowl without him, but the defense had its problems. It is not top-10 great with Miller but it would have been a lot better. The pass rush was lacking at times to say the least.
The Broncos are putting their reputation on the line by picking up that option. They didn’t have to do it and could have let Miller walk after this season which a lot of “experts” would probably have no problem with.
There are not other Von Millers out there to pick up. The guy is full of a talent and is a difference maker. Any defense that has him is better.
But Miller is one slip up away from being suspended for a year and possibly more. He tried to cheat the drug testing policy which is not too bright. The NFL has a pretty tight lock on that stuff. He knew he was in trouble and tried to dodge.
Miller may be a classic example of a great talent but not really smart off the field. That causes the Broncos plenty of headaches. A headache they may have to get rid of in two years.
But for now the Broncos and Miller are set for a two-year relationship. If Miller shines and flies right, he will probably be a Bronco for a long time. He messes up and he will be looking for another a team. Both parties have a lot on the line in the next two years.
Chris Schmaedeke is currently the Assistant Sports Editor at the Daily Camera in Boulder. He has worked in sports journalism in Colorado since 2001 when he started at the Rocky Mountain News. He has covered the Denver Broncos for several websites over the past two years.
Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisSchmaedeke
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