DENVER — Von is gone. But has he really left?
Fresh off his Super Bowl victory with the Rams, Von Miller teased Broncos' fans about a possible reunion as a free agent next week when legal tampering begins March 14. Von told Denver7 on the day he was traded to the Rams that he never asked to leave, his emotion raw and tears in his eyes.
"I will always be a Bronco," he told me.
Now that he has won another Super Bowl ring and cemented himself as a first ballot Hall of Famer with four postseason sacks, Miller remains open to returning to Denver. He made that clear with a series of social media posts on Monday morning.
On Instagram, Von posted a picture in his Broncos uniform and wrote, "58 or 40 in (orange and blue)." He followed it with the caption, "I wonder if they will give me my older locker back."
Flames fueled, Miller turned to Twitter, where he has not been as active in recent years, and wrote, "I kinda want that old thing back. . 5280," the latter of which is the elevation of Denver. Multiple Broncos players retweeted it, including cornerback Patrick Surtain II and tight end Noah Fant.
I kinda want that old thing back.. 5280— Von Miller (@VonMiller) March 7, 2022
While the sides respect each other, it's important to realize it must be a fit for both parties. As such, I expect the Broncos to monitor the market for Von. With his flourish of a finish last season, Miller put himself in position for another healthy payday. And the Rams clearly want him back after he delivered nine sacks his final eight games, counting the playoffs.
Von, who turns 33 on March 26, can ask for a two-year, $35-$40 million contract, with roughly half guaranteed, with a straight face. Would the Broncos be willing to do that after wavering on picking up his $17 million salary last year? Or would they better off — especially if they don't land Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson and go with a drafted quarterback — paying a free agent pass rusher $10-to-$12 million and adding an edge player in the draft?
Von maintains his residency in metro Denver, and holds a special place in the heart of Broncos Country as arguably the greatest defensive player in franchise history. He won Super Bowl 50 MVP, but failed to approach that glory in the subsequent 5 1/2 seasons, derailed by an ankle injury that cost him the 2020 season and a horrible offense that rarely led, neutralizing Denver's pass rush.
In his final post on the subject, Von insisted he wasn't trolling.
"I wouldn't tease y'all like that, man. It's real, man. My first time ever being a free agent, man. I'm just sitting back on the beach, man. Waiting on it, man. Broncos Country, wassup?" Miller said.
Broncos general manager George Paton believed Von would play at a Pro Bowl level last season, and was happy for his success with the Rams. The Broncos ate $9 million of Von's remaining salary and landed a second and third round pick in this year's draft in the trade. Had the Broncos kept Von and he signed elsewhere this offseason, the Broncos could have received no better than a fifth round compensatory pick in 2023 based on his years experience in the league.
Paton thinks highly of Von as a player and person, which is why the Broncos will not close the door on his return, while knowing the contract has to make sense as they continue improving the roster and addressing multiple needs.
According to Pro Football Network, four teams are interested in Miller, including the Rams, Broncos, Chargers and Packers.