Miller a vital expense for Broncos in pass-happy NFL


The NFL is living in the age of the pass-happy offense, and the contract handed to Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller on Friday served as a reminder of that fact.

Miller, franchise tagged by the Broncos in February, received a huge payday after a long and at times contentious stand-off with the Super Bowl champions.

The pass-rush specialist was handed a six-year contract worth $114.5million, receiving $70m fully guaranteed - a record for non-quarterbacks.

All-Pro Miller is now the richest defensive player in the NFL and, while the figures are dwarfed by some of the eye-watering contracts handed out to NBA players during its free-agency period, the money he has received symbolises the importance being placed on stopping the passing game.

Miller has proven himself to be one of the greatest exponents of the art of stopping the passing game, delivering a masterful performance in the playoffs, with 2.5 of his five postseason sacks coming as he and the dominant Broncos defense shut down the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50.

His heroics earned Miller the Super Bowl MVP award and, after losing defensive lineman Malik Jackson - seen as equally important to the triumph in the season-ending showpiece - the Broncos could ill-afford not to hand their star pass rusher a contract, particularly after his threats to sit out the 2016 season in the event of him being asked to play under the franchise tag.

Although the price paid is high, in locking up Miller the Broncos have secured the services of a player in his prime at 27, who should keep them firmly in contention for a postseason return if not a second straight title.

The Broncos do not look to have a particularly attractive option at quarterback in the post-Peyton Manning era, with Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian and rookie Paxton Lynch on the depth chart, however, Denver's defense proved emphatically that it is good enough to carry the strain last season.

Denver may have lost some pieces on defense, but Miller still has plenty of support in DeMarcus Ware and promising second-year player Shane Ray as well as a secondary featuring Pro Bowlers Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.

That is a core of players with more than enough talent to keep Denver's defense among the top units in the league and, if Miller lives up to his contract and produces the kind of form that saw him record 11 sacks last year, the Broncos should be right in the mix in the AFC West once again.