The Broncos on Tuesday placed the franchise tag on Miller, which is a guaranteed, one-year tender offer of $14.129 million for a linebacker. The Broncos used the exclusive tag, which means Miller’s representatives can negotiate only with the Broncos and keeps Miller off the market when free agency opens on March 9.
The Broncos plan to do with Miller what they have done the three previous times they’ve used the tag -- on tackle Ryan Clady, kicker Matt Prater and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas -- sign their franchised player to a long-term deal. In those three previous cases, the team came to an agreement before training camp opened.
In a statement Tuesday, Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway said the team has had productive talks with Miller’s agent, Joby Branion. "We'll continue those discussions with the goal of making sure Von remains a Bronco well into the future," Elway said.
The Broncos and Miller’s representatives have exchanged multiple proposals on a long-term deal in recent weeks. Miller has consistently said he expected the negotiations to be "peaceful," and Elway said at the NFL’s scouting combine this past week, "So far it's been good, we're in the ballpark, at least I believe so ... I think we're in the ballpark ... he's a guy we're going to keep around."
Miller is a cornerstone player, coming off a Super Bowl MVP award after collecting 2.5 sacks and forcing two fumbles.
It will all come down to money matters from this point forward. Miller’s deal should put him among the highest-paid defensive players in the league.
The Broncos might want something like Justin Houston's deal (six-year, $101 million deal with $52.5 million guaranteed). Miller and his representatives have eyed something more on the order of the $60 million guaranteed in Marcell Dareus' six-year, $96.57 million deal with the Buffalo Bills or Ndamukong Suh's six-year, $114.4 million deal with Miami Dolphins that included $59.96 million in guaranteed money.
Suh’s deal also includes full-salary guarantees for the first three seasons of the deal.
The Broncos must sign Miller to a long-term deal before July 15, or he will play the 2016 season under the franchise tag. The two sides would have to wait until the next offseason to restart talks. The Broncos would like to see Miller at their offseason program, which starts April 18, but Miller likely will want a long-term deal in place before attending.
Miller told ESPN.com in the days before the scouting combine that he believed the Broncos were prepared to get a deal done.
"I feel comfortable," he said. "Me and John's relationship is great. He was there when I was going through stuff, and he never wavered. I feel like we won't waver now, either. It will be a great experience, and it will be peaceful -- there's no reason for it not to be."