After playing in just four games in 2019, Bradley Chubb will make a highly-anticipated return for the Denver Broncos this coming season.
Chubb hasn’t been seen in uniform since a Week 4 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. In that game, Chubb collected his first sack of the season but after the game, it was revealed that he suffered a partially torn ACL. That put him on the shelf for the rest of the year.
The Broncos hope that year three will be the year the former first-round pick explodes.
The team and most around the league know that Chubb is capable. The No. 5 overall choice of the 2018 draft had 12 sacks as a rookie. If he is healthy, double-digit sacks should be an expectation.
Should Chubb have a massive year, what would it do for the guy on the other side, Von Miller? This can be looked at in a few ways.
Chubb’s success should bring Miller success
This is logical. Having both of these players on the field at the same time gives the opponent much more to think about, worry about and gameplan for. Having them on the field together was really the vision when the Broncos chose Chubb so high.
Last season, without Chubb for most of it, Miller was able to reach the quarterback just eight times. That was the least amount of sacks in a season for him since 2013 and that year, he played in just nine games.
With both Chubb and Miller, the Broncos have arguably the league’s best pass-rushing combination. Both players should reach a minimum of 10 sacks.
Would the Broncos move on from Miller?
This is obviously the big question and before you immediately write this off as preposterous, there is much to consider.
Miller is obviously a legend and is probably the best defensive player in Broncos history. He’s also 31 years old. He still has one more year left on his contract after this one, but there is a club option for the 2021 season.
The Broncos picked up Von’s club option this offseason, one that carried a $25.6 million cap hit. There was also $17.8 million in dead money had the Broncos parted ways with Miller this offseason for some strange reason.
But next offseason, that idea might not be so strange. Miller’s 2021 club option carries a $22.2 million cap hit with $7 million in guarantees, some crazy numbers to be sure. But the dead money drops all the way down to $4.2 million if the team does not pick up the option.
It would still be surprising to see the team move on from Miller, but to act like it’s not an option is silly, particularly if he has another down year.
Most would agree that his low sack numbers in 2019 can be attributed to teams being able to place more focus on him with Chubb out and maybe a bit can be chalked up to having to settle into Vic Fangio’s defense, but neither of those will be an excuse this year.
Miller is an all-time great. But to be able to continue to be paid at the rate that the Broncos are paying him, he has to prove he is still one of the best pass rushers in football.
If he has another subpar year and Chubb passes him by, the Broncos could elect to move on and allocate those salary cap dollars elsewhere.