ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Von Miller opened his mouth last Sunday and dropped jaws with his comments. He was so introspective, saying the ninth straight loss to the Chiefs "defeated his soul," that it created uncertainty about his future. Tuesday, he told Denver7 he isn't looking to go anywhere.
"I don't like the way some of it was portrayed. I don't want to leave. At all. This is my identity, playing for Broncos. I have no Plan B. That's why it hurts so much to lose," Miller said.
Miller told me he was surprised that his comments went viral. It became a story because Miller was so revealing. He was introspective in a way we've never heard Miller after a game, something I told Von on Tuesday. He told me he wasn't trying to send a message to anyone, including the front office. His plan was to slip out of the locker room because he was disappointed with losing. As such, when he stepped to the podium, his emotions were raw.
"I do a lot of other things. I have told you that. I raise chickens, do other stuff. But if someone sees me out, they say, 'That's Von Miller of the Denver Broncos.' Being on this team is who I am. So when we lose, that's how people see me and see us. It hurts. I want us to get back to winning," Miller said.
Miller has not met his lofty expectations this season. After a slow start, he boasts seven sacks. He ranks seventh in pressures (33) and eighth in quarterback hits (16), despite missing a game for the first time since 2013 with a sprained ACL in his left knee.
His streak of seven straight Pro Bowls is in jeopardy when the team is announced Tuesday at 6 p.m., though he could make it as a reserve. Miller has taken on a different role in Vic Fangio's defense, playing roughly 90 percent of the snaps, up around 15 percent from his career average. Miller has continued to play despite his knee injury, struggling against Houston, but delivering one of his best games at Kansas City.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio wasn't bothered by Miller's postgame remarks, seeing them through a narrow lens of losing to the team's rival for 4 1/2 years. General manager John Elway took the same stance Tuesday during his weekly appearance on KOA.
"I think everybody’s frustrated with losing…Obviously he’s frustrated, I get it, we’re all frustrated," Elway said. "Nobody likes losing.”
Miller has two seasons remaining on a six-year, $114.1 million deal with $70 million guaranteed signed following Super Bowl 50. He is due to make a reasonable $17.5 million in each of the next two years on club options. The Broncos must exercise his 2020 option by March 18, which would guarantee $6 million. In sort of similar circumstances last year, the Broncos exercised options on veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defensive end Derek Wolfe.
Miller, Wolfe, Chris Harris Jr. and Brandon McManus are the only remaining members from the Super Bowl title team. Wolfe told Denver7 on Tuesday that nothing has changed with his situation.
"I want to retire a Bronco," said Wolfe, who produced a career season with seven sacks in 12 games before dislocating his left elbow.
Wolfe didn't require surgery and told me on Tuesday he would have likely been cleared to return if the team reached the playoffs. Wolfe said there's been no contract talks about his future, though he remains hopeful. The team faces tough decisions on Wolfe, cornerback Chris Harris Jr, defensive Shelby Harris and, to a lesser degree, safety Justin Simmons.
Harris Jr. showed humility Tuesday, admitting he does not deserve to make the Pro Bowl this season. Still, he's been solid at a premium position, and there could be a number of teams looking for a starting corner, among them the Ravens, Colts, Eagles and Texans.
Elway said during his radio spot that he plans to keep Simmons. The sides talked earlier this season, but nothing has heated up. Simmons told Denver7 he was open to signing this month — something the Broncos did in the past with Harris and Wolfe — if the deal was right. The Broncos could also franchise tag Simmons, which would all but keep him in Denver given the acquisition price for other teams. However, some players across the league have shown they will stay away from team activities if tagged in order to create leverage to facilitate a long-term deal.
Simmons, a third-round pick, has delivered his best season and is a strong candidate to make his first Pro Bowl. He is in the final year of his four-year, $3-million rookie deal. The franchise tag will likely be around $11.5 million for his position.
"When it comes down to it, whether I make it or not (to the Pro Bowl), I've just got to keep fighting the good fight and keep stacking up good seasons. Obviously, I talked about it multiple times, hoping that that's here, but it just has to work out on both sides," Simmons said. "I love this system, but I also feel like I make this system work as well as the system works for me. I feel like it's a hand-in-hand type of relationship there. It's been great, though, and I look forward to finishing strong these last two games.”
Former starting quarterback Joe Flacco told Denver7 his neck feels good, making improvement not long after the loss to the Colts. He has not undergone surgery, just rest to promote healing. He's expected to talk about his future following the final game of the season. Flacco has remained in the quarterback meetings, and been cited as a positive influence for the young players, including starter Drew Lock. ... The Lions confirmed today that coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn will return in 2020. The Broncos host the Lions on Sunday.