Looking back at how the Denver Broncos have handled troubled players over the past decade, star linebacker Von Miller may be looking at an early exit to his career in the Mile High City.
Miller, who was cited last week for driving without a license and was rumored to have an outstanding warrant for his arrest in California, drew ire from coach John Fox this week after what has become a chain of legal debacles that have landed the former No. 2 overall pick in the team’s doghouse.
Granted, as Fox acknowledged in his interviews with reporters Thursday, Miller’s mishaps with the law have all been nothing more than a few traffic citations and the team is willing to help its troubled star going forward. However, the breadth and depth of this support has to be cautiously evaluated as a precaution on the team’s part given Miller’s defensive contributions — a team-high 30 sacks — over the past two years.
Miller’s six-game suspension with the league for violating its substance abuse policy has motivated the Broncos towards recouping $1.25 million of the $13.77 million signing bonus the team gave the former Texas A&M standout back in 2011, which may actually foreshadow the inevitable split between player and franchise.
Reports say the star pass-rusher is going to fight the team’s effort to regain its money.
The Broncos have a long history, perhaps the longest in the entire league, of cutting, trading and not resigning players who have had run ins with the law, the league or have butted heads with management.
The not-so-all-of-a-sudden “Bad Boy” Broncos have seen arrests of former stars such as defensive end Elvis Dumervil, wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Javon Walker, cornerback Perrish Cox, and tight end Richard Quinn.
Former linebacker D.J. Williams missed significant time last season for multiple failed drug tests.
As for butting heads with team officials, former star quarterback Jay Cutler didn’t even play another season in Denver when he got into a dispute with then-head coach Josh McDaniels.
While these moves have happened over the course of several different coaching regimes, the main players — team president Joe Ellis and team owner Pat Bowlen — have remained the same and should be growing tiresome of constantly being in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
This all seems a bit obvious — usually when players get in trouble with law, especially for gun or drug related incidents, it means they’re on a short leash; however, in the case of Miller, it will be interesting to see how management proceeds next off-season, or when Miller becomes a free agent in 2015.
None of the players on the aforementioned long list of players to be arrested were as highly valued as Miller. Of course, Cutler and Marshall took the Broncos passing offense to new heights, but that was at the end of the Mike Shanahan era when there was an inevitable house cleaning on its way in the form of McDaniels. As for Williams and Walker, former captains, their most significant impacts were made during one of the franchise’s worst stretches from 2006-2010, when the team failed to make the playoffs five consecutive seasons.
Miller is not only the team’s defensive superstar; he’s the Broncos franchise player when Peyton Manning retires. In other words, it won’t be easy for the team to cut him or trade him or let him walk as they’ve done with problematic players in the past.
Miller’s departure would be met with backlash from fans and media alike. With that said, only four Broncos have had struggles with the law, the league or the team — Knowshon Moreno, Matt Prater, Julius Thomas and Virgil Green — and remain on the team.
Moreno and Prater were both charged with DUIs, their first and only offenses, and for Moreno, a free agent this year, it’s still undetermined whether he’s going to be back for the 2014-2015 season.
Where all this leaves Miller remains unseen, but based on all this history, his days wearing Blue and Orange could be numbered.