Why Von Miller’s production justifies record-setting deal from Denver

Is Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller worth the monster deal he just signed? Sam Monson answers this question.

| 5 months ago
(Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images)

Why Von Miller’s production justifies record-setting deal from Denver


Von Miller just agreed to the richest contract for a defensive player in NFL history, and he earned every penny of the deal with his performance during Denver’s Super Bowl run to end the 2015 season.

The deal will keep him in Denver for another six seasons, and is worth $114.5 million if he plays out the duration of it. He receives something in the region of a $23 million signing bonus and a colossal $70 million in guaranteed money, according to Mike Klis. That guaranteed figure is $10 million more than Ndamukong Suh received in guaranteed dollars from Miami, and more guaranteed money than any NFL player has ever received outside of Andrew Luck.

The list of the top guaranteed-money earners in the league right now is comprised of a few recently-signed defensive interior players and quarterbacks, so Miller is the new market-setter when it comes to edge rushers.

Olivier Vernon blew some people’s minds when he signed a deal that had $52.5 million in guaranteed money, but Miller has eclipsed that mark by $17.5 million, and a very similar percentage of the total contract is guaranteed.

Those two contracts represent the shift in the market under the ever-increasing salary cap.

While Ndamukong Suh was never the best interior defender in the league, there is a good argument that Miller might be as good as it gets on the edge, and certainly capable of being that guy for an extended run of games, and he proved it on the biggest stage in the most crucial game of all at the end of last season.

Denver needed a win in Week 17 to be sure of top playoff seeding, so including that game, the Broncos were looking at essentially four playoff games to end their season. In those matchups, Miller averaged 7.5 total pressures per game. In the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship, he was arguably the single-most-important deciding factor in the outcome going in Denver’s favor, and in a very real sense, he can say that the Broncos don’t have another ring without him in a way most non-quarterbacks can’t in today’s league.

Miller has averaged 4.8 pressures during the regular season over the course of his career, and if anything, has only gotten better in the playoffs, where he has averaged 5.9 total pressures for his career so far. That is a ludicrous amount, and even eclipses J.J. Watt’s career-mark of 5.4 per game.

Miller at his best is nearly unstoppable as an edge rusher, and the only minor question marks are the occasional game where he doesn’t seem to match that average, and the fact that he has been in trouble in the past (suspended for half of the 2013 season).

The bottom line, though, is that Miller raised his value to the absolute maximum it could get to as he was hitting the negotiating period, much as Joe Flacco did when he parlayed the best five-game stretch of his career into a Super Bowl win and a $100 million deal of his own.

Von Miller pass-rushed his way to a Super Bowl win, and with it, the new benchmark contract for edge rushers in the NFL. Unlike Suh, who has never really hit the kind of play needed to justify his contract, Miller has attained that level of play regularly—and recently—so it’s tough to say that he has been overpaid in the same way.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

    gig em

  • crosseyedlemon

    I think Sam and I might finally be in agreement on something. People can argue over dollar amounts but what it really all boils down to is rewarding your top performers. If a team wont do that, how can they expect the other players on the team to make an effort?

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    • eYeDEF

      Well there’s always free agency in a contract year to supercharge a player’s effort. If Denver didn’t pay him, someone would have stepped up and it’s hard to see a player not putting in effort when he’s only hurting his own wallet. That said, I think there is a natural preference for most successful players to re-sign with the teams they found success in. I’m sure Von preferred the Broncos to any of the teams that had cap space to sign him. If they passed, maybe he would have gone to the Raiders. That would have made their starting LB trio ridiculous.

      • Will Neal

        BRO! Do u know HOW friggin mad I’d have been if we a) not only lost him but b) he wound up with the darn Faiders…..smh just don’t say that.
        Plus im still a slight bit upset JE didn’t swing for Aldon — imagine Aldon on one side with Wolfe (younger, more versatile Justin Smith) and Von on the other with our rotation of Shaq & Ray — we’d have been able to let Ware fade to black or have a supreme…..SUPREME pass rush — right now we’re 89 octane but Aldon would have easily given us that push over the top 93 baby!!

    • TheTruth

      plus the cap goes up 9-12 million a year so by his 3rd year it’ll be like a 14 mil dollar contract today

  • TheTruth

    mack was by far the best run Defending olb, and vons run d grade in his rookie season (roy, and blamed 5 games with a cast on his arm) wouldve been 3rd this year to von and mack. vons 2nd year he nearly doubled this year’s best run defense grade at any position, and his pass rush grade was almost double was von had this year (von was 1st in pressures by 20) his 3rd year he was suspended for weed and came back fatter than ever and slow and out of shape, as a result of pushing and extra 25 lbs he tore his acl, he came back year 4 with a knee brace and was ranked 4th in pff top 101, off an acl tear at olb and was still much faster than everyone, this year he played 3-4 which is notoriously easier to run on and Von still was 2nd in run D for olbs, and his grades wouldve been a lot higher but he played his least amount of snaps in his career and played 250 less snaps than mack, which is about 3 and a half games (wade uses rotations). also, macks best game came against our 5th tackle, if von wouldve played the raiders 5th tackle and mack wouldve played our RT he wouldve had 5 more sacks than mack houston is by far the most complete player, i expect his run grade to go up this year and his sack total, maybe nothe pressures

    • Wackanhut

      so youve got the comma down, next try the finding the period!

      • TheTruth

        Just truth

        • Wackanhut

          Just Incoherent

          • TheTruth

            if that is incoherent you need better schooling

          • Wackanhut

            Maybe your right, they didn’t teach gibberish in any school that I attended.

          • TheTruth

            gibberish because I didNT put periods instead of commas? ahaha ok. learn how to read. if you’re complaining about not enough periods on a football site then find something to do with life no period,

          • Thomas Bell

            ….um, also the apostrophe, spacing and capitalizing errors make it unreadable. You should be flattered: we actually wanted to read your post. (please note my use of the colon)

          • TheTruth

            so just to make sure I’m estimating your IQ accurately, had i put in apostrophes and better “spacing” and capitalized words, you wouldve been able to read my post but since I didnt… well. I mean why am I typing? UR 2 5tup1d 2 r34d. eye didn’t no u needed a teachers degree to read imperfect Grammer. know wonder this world is going 3 shite. and yes I made mistakes on purpose so as to keep it in masonic encrypted code which secretly reads “Broncos are going to win the SB for another 2 or 3 years in a row”

          • Thomas Bell

            you’re