Welcome aboard, George Paton! As the new general manager of the Denver Broncos, you have some huge decisions to make.
It seems as though John Elway will be a hands-off boss and give complete control of the roster to Paton.
Perhaps the biggest priority for this offseason is for the team to come to terms on a new deal with safety Justin Simmons. This needs to happen for a number of reasons and though the team could lock him down with the franchise tag again, a long-term deal with the talented young Simmons would be preferable.
As soon as that gets handled, Paton needs to turn his attention to Von Miller.
The former Super Bowl MVP missed all of last season and underperformed with just eight sacks the year before that. The Broncos could save a ton of money under the salary cap by letting him go.
Though it sounds crazy to cut Miller, those are some of the reasons that move would happen. On top of that, Miller could still be looking at criminal charges, though the details of which have yet to be disclosed.
Miller will also be 32 years old next month.
Even with all of that in mind, it still seems hard to digest the idea of letting go of the best defensive player in team history. In addition to being the team’s all-time sack leader, Miller has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and is still considered one of the league’s top pass-rushers.
But what the team could get with the money it would save by not picking up Miller’s option could be seen as more intriguing. Because Miller’s cap number is so high, the team could bring in multiple, likely younger players.
But even then, letting go of Miller would likely not sit well with Broncos fans. While it probably would not be on the level of the Colorado Rockies basically giving Nolan Arenado away, it wouldn’t go over well because of the name-value that Miller brings and the fact that seeing him play in a different jersey would be difficult.
But business decisions are not made on emotions. They are made on facts and instincts and it is the facts that Paton will be presented with and his instincts that will lead to this decision, which won’t be an easy one as there are solid arguments either way.
If the team chooses to pick up the option on Miller’s deal, it could allow Vic Fangio to play with a full deck in 2021. He lost Bradley Chubb for most of the 2019 season due to injury and lost Miller for all of last season. He has yet to really be able to use those two tremendous players in tandem.
At the same time, Malik Reed stepped up in a big way last year and though he’ll never be Miller, could be a passable option if the team lines up some good depth behind he and Chubb.
What should the decision be?
How should Paton handle this decision? Most fans of the team are going to answer that by screaming “keep him”, but is that the right move?
With the NFL being the business that it is, the best teams are the ones that make the smart moves money-wise. They don’t pay a declining player nearly $20 million for one season if he’s not the team’s starting quarterback.
But is it fair to say that Miller is declining? Probably not. For those who paid attention to reports out of the team’s training camp last summer, he looked incredibly good before a freak injury ended his season.
What the team should do (and maybe it is), is to wait and find out what these potential charges that Miller is facing are going to amount to. That should help with the decision.
If Miller is going to be charged and it’s a situation that could become messy with a suspension or something of that nature, it might be time to cut bait. On the other hand, if these charges are dismissed and turn into nothing more than a lot of chatter, then the argument to pick up his option for this upcoming season so that Fangio gets his two best pass-rushers on the field together does make some sense.
It will be quite interesting to see which direction Paton chooses to go in.