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Denver Broncos pick up Von Miller’s team option for 2021

Sep 16, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) celebrates the win over the Oakland Raiders at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos will hang onto superstar pass-rusher Von Miller for one more season, as they picked up the team option for the final year of his contract on Tuesday.

Miller is now guaranteed $7 million of his base salary for the year, and is slated to be easily the Broncos’ highest hit against the salary cap at $22.125 million, per Over the Cap.

Von Miller staying with Denver Broncos

Mike Klis of 9News broke the story that Miller was remaining in Denver, while NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport provided further context about what happened behind the scenes:

Miller was a real candidate to have his team option declined, which would’ve made him an unrestricted free agent one offseason early. Given the massive salary he commanded and the fact that he missed all of the 2020 campaign, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the Broncos go in that direction.

All that said, Denver is set to welcome Miller back to the fold and hope he emulates the All-Pro and Super Bowl MVP form he’s shown in the past.

In nine seasons of action, the 31-year-old Miller has made eight Pro Bowls and racked up 106 sacks, which already puts him in the top 25 all-time.

Denver Broncos’ updated 2021 outlook with Von Miller back

Denver Broncos' updated 2021 outlook with Von Miller back
Nov 24, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) walks to the sidelines at the end of the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft has been a Bronco his whole career, and the face of the franchise amid the turnover Denver has experienced at the quarterback position in the post-Peyton Manning era.

With well north of $30 million in salary cap space still available, there are more moves the Broncos can make to bolster their chances of challenging for an AFC playoff berth in 2021. However, it’s going to be an uphill battle while playing in the AFC West division.

Yes, Miller and Bradley Chubb will be starting on opposite edges to hound opposing quarterbacks, but the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers have such huge advantages over Denver due to the superior play of QBs Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.

Denver’s strong defensive head coach Vic Fangio and studs like Miller and Chubb can only do so much against those guys. To circle back to Manning, Drew Lock is the latest signal-caller to take his crack at being The Sheriff’s long-term successor. So far, it’s not going particularly well.

But Lock has a ton of young offensive weapons around him entering his third year, with top wideout Courtland Sutton returning from injury after missing all but one game in 2020.

Perhaps the amount of money the Broncos were due to pay Miller, the smaller NFL salary cap and his comfort with the only team he’s played for as a pro, contributed to his staying in the Mile High City. However, at this juncture, it’s unlikely Miller is content to play for a losing team, which Denver is slated to be unless Lock really explodes.

Miller has given Lock a ringing public endorsement before. It’s up to the young gunslinger to make good on those strong words, and come out firing with a breakout 2021 season that vaults the Broncos from middling AFC team to a legitimate playoff contender.

It seems almost unfathomable for Lock to achieve this. Bear in mind, though, the quantum leap Josh Allen took in Year 3 with the Buffalo Bills this past year. Lock doesn’t have quite that talent level, but he has plenty of arm talent and athleticism to make good on his immense upside.

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