ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — With a decision about Von Miller‘s future looming, Denver Broncos general manager George Paton said Thursday the team wants the linebacker back for 2021, but is waiting to hear more on potential legal issues Miller may have and did not rule out a discussion about a pay cut for him to return.
“We’re still working through it with Von, his agent, and in regards to the legal process, we’re just going to let the legal process play out,” Paton said. “But obviously it’s a serious situation, but we want to let it play out before we comment on that.”
Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the Super Bowl 50 MVP, has an option clause in his contract that if the Broncos pick up would guarantee $7 million of Miller’s $17.5 million base salary and engage the final year of a six-year, $114.5 million deal he signed in 2016.
The Broncos, as well as Miler, are still waiting on a decision from the district attorney in the 18th Judicial District in suburban Denver to determine if Miller will be charged in the wake of an investigation by the Parker (Colorado) police department. Neither the police nor the district attorney’s office have released details of what specific charges Miller could face.
Miller has not responded to requests for comment. If charges are filed, Miller could also face the prospect of league discipline as well.
Asked if Miller’s return could also hinge on a salary cut, Paton said:
“We want to bring Von back, we’re still working through that, I don’t want to get into everything, but we want to bring him back. Obviously the legal process, what he’s going through, it’s a serious situation, obviously, and I don’t know all the details, but we respect what’s going on. We do want Von back.”
Miller missed all of the 2020 season after an ankle injury just days before the season opener. At the time coach Vic Fangio said he had expected Miller to have “a hell of a year.”
Miller’s eight sacks in 2019 were his lowest total since 2013 when he finished with five sacks after serving a six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and then suffering a torn ACL in December of that year.
Miller leads all active players who were on NFL rosters last season with 106 sacks.
Miller is the longest-tenured Broncos player and John Elway’s first draft pick as the team’s top football executive. Elway stepped away from the general manager’s role earlier this year before Paton was hired in January.
Other topics Paton and Fangio addressed Thursday:
“(I) did a deep dive with Drew … very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on, but I’ve spoken with Drew … he really wants to be great,” Paton said. “We’re always going to bring in competition at every position, quarterback as well, but I like the track Drew’s on … He does have all the traits you look for in a quarterback.”
“We’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to be in every deal, doesn’t mean we’re going to make that deal, but we’re going to look into everything, whether it’s a quarterback or a defensive lineman, anything to help our football team we’re going to pursue it.”
Paton also said he would not publicly discuss any quarterback on another team’s roster, like Deshaun Watson and that the Broncos would consider using the No. 9 pick in the draft on a quarterback “if it’s the best player on the board we’re going to take him.”
On re-signing safety Justin Simmons, who played on the franchise player tag last season and is poised to be an unrestricted free agent, Paton said: “Justin is one of our core guys and our goal since I got here was to sign him to a long-term deal. We’ve had good discussions with his agent. I don’t know if we’ll get a deal done or not, but that’s our goal. He’s the type of guy we’d want to extend.”
The return of right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who opted out this past season over concerns with COVID-19.
Both Paton and Fangio said they had spoken with James and that James was set to return to Denver area in the coming weeks to train.
Paton said the Broncos would tender three of their most prominent restricted free agents — running back Phillip Lindsay, wide receiver Tim Patrick and linebacker Alexander Johnson.
Paton added he was already trying to re-sign defensive end Shelby Harris, who will be an unrestricted free agent and has talked to safety Kareem Jackson‘s representatives. Jackson has an option year in his contract for 2021 the Broncos have to decide to exercise by the start of the new league year.
“We’ve got to work through some things, we’d like Kareem back,” Paton said. ” … We’ll see if we can do that.”