Contract negotiations in sports are like relationships. You have to compromise, talk things out and come to an arrangement that makes both sides happy. Oftentimes, feelings are hurt and that will cause someone to lash out or send a not so subtle message about how disgruntled they are. Look no further than Von Miller’s somewhat comical cropping of a White House picture that left John Elway on the outside looking in.
Maybe these negotiations are more like high school relationships?
Nevertheless, from Elway “lowballing” Miller to Von supposedly threatening to sit out the season if he doesn’t get the deal he is looking for, the prevailing theory is that tensions are high between the Broncos and their franchise player, making the likelihood that a new contract will be reached dismal at best. It’s kind of pathetic how much drama the media tries to fabricate surrounding these situations every year. What’s really alarming is how many people seem to take the bait, hook, line and sinker.
My prediction? You will hear a lot more about how contentious these talks have been, only to watch as Miller signs a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline that will either make him very rich or super rich. A lot of journalists will feign surprise even though absolutely no one should be surprised. Here’s why.
1. John Elway has a track record of signing franchise players
Part of the reason that Elway has been so successful as both a businessman and the general manager of our beloved Broncos is because he’s a terrific negotiator. He draws a hard line during discussions and will very rarely cross it or allow greedy agents to take advantage of him. It doesn’t always endear him to players and their representation, especially when teams like the Eagles and Jaguars throw out guaranteed money like it’s candy virtually every off-season. It’s also a big reason why the Broncos have won the AFC West five years in a row, two AFC Championships and a Super Bowl under Elway’s watch. He keeps the team in good shape cap-wise, doesn’t mortgage the future for immediate returns and when he does hand out a big contract, it’s always to a player who has most definitely earned it by becoming a cornerstone of the Broncos.
So why hasn’t he reached an agreement with Von Miller yet? For the same reason that negotiations with Demaryius Thomas, Matt Prater and Ryan Clady dragged on into the summer: there’s no reason that a deal has to be reached until we get closer to that July 15 deadline. Would it be more convenient if it didn’t take so long? Of course, but this is all part of the process. Von wants to be paid like the best non-quarterback in the league, which he’s earned, and Elway is looking out for the best interests of the team, which is what we’d all expect him to do. That being said, deals got done with DT, Prater and Clady before that deadline passed. You have to trust that Elway will make the same thing happen with Miller.
2. John Elway won’t let Von get away
Now I know what you’re thinking: “This is Von f***ing Miller we’re talking about, just give him a blank check and be done with it!” While I understand that rationale, I must emphasize that no one understands Von Miller’s worth and value more than John Elway. After all, no. 58 was Elway’s first draft pick. He stuck with Von through legal trouble and injury and just watched Von take over both the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning serving as a glorified game manager. Elway knows how good the guy is and how indispensable he is to the Broncos. Do you really think Elway would risk losing his best player and the face of his franchise? It’s not always easy to be patient in these situations, but come on now.
3. Von really wants to be a Bronco
If I remember correctly, there was talk last summer that one or several players who got franchise tagged were threatening to hold out during the season. None of them did. The only guy who did hold out was Kam Chancellor, and I nor anyone else in the world understands why he did that, especially since he wound up returning to the Seahawks in September without getting a new deal. Any rumor that Von would hold out is thin at best and a flat-out lie at worst. You also can’t discount the fact that Von loves his teammates and has gone on record saying he wants to be a Bronco for life.
When push comes to shove, Von will sacrifice some money so that he can help his team defend its Super Bowl title. Compromise. If Elway makes an offer close to what Von is seeking, he’ll sign it in a heartbeat especially if the deadline is rapidly approaching. Find middle ground. Most importantly, Von will have a deal that will make him super rich and the Broncos will have their best player locked up for years to come during the prime of his career. Make both sides happy.
The reality is that May and June are typically the slowest news months for the NFL. With very few concrete stories to report on, the media likes to harp on anything that could be perceived as news. When a player like Von Miller isn’t under contract, to them that’s newsworthy, even though we see it every summer. Much like (high school) relationships, people like to gossip about what they hear and make a bigger deal out of it than it’s worth.
Reporter 1: “Did you hear that Von cropped John Elway out of his picture?”
Reporter 2: “OMG, he must hate him!”
Reporter 1: “I know, right?!”
It’s just human nature I guess, especially in the digital age when anyone with a smart phone can spread nonsense out on the internet. But you’re a logical fan, right? You aren’t gullible enough to believe all that crap. That’s why I encourage you once more to remember that with a month to go before the deadline, there is probably going to be a lot more tabloid-esque reports about how far apart the Broncos and Miller remain on reaching a new deal. However, until that deadline passes and Miller isn’t signed, none of that really matters. I’ve believed all along that an agreement wouldn’t transpire until July 15 was near, and I still believe that now.
If nothing else, remember that the Broncos just received their beautiful Super Bowl rings in large part because of the way that Elway does business.
In Elway We Trust.