We actually have a big NFL trade this year as the deadline draws near as the Rams have acquired future HOF Edge rusher Von Miller from the Broncos according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter
Blockbuster: Broncos are finalizing a trade to send eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for two second-day 2022 draft picks, league sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 1, 2021
Miller is now saying his goodbyes to his friends in the Broncos’ training facility. pic.twitter.com/wJjlDOQkPU
Miller was in the final year of a six year, $114.5 million contract which had made Miller the highest paid defensive player in the NFL at the time of signing. Miller was one of the rare players who was signed to a lucrative contract and nearly played out the entire contract with the team who signed it. Miller was dominant in the early portion of the contract putting up 38 sacks in three years before beginning to fall off and eventually missed all of 2020 with an ankle injury.
There was speculation in the offseason that the Broncos would cut Miller rather than pay his $18 million salary, but the Broncos held onto him, probably holding out hope that they would either be very competitive this season or that they would be able to trade him for draft picks. While the team hasnt been great they do get a tremendous return of a 2nd and 3rd round pick for a 32 year old pass rusher.
The actual trade here is Von Miller and $9 million in cash for a 2nd and 3rd round pick. Miller still had $9.72 million in salary remaining this year which was going to be too much for almost any team to absorb. The Rams had around $5 million in cap room and basically got the Broncos to eat almost the entire contract. I would assume that Denver will convert $9 million of salary to a bonus today and change his P5 to a base rate of $1.3 million which would prorate out to $722,222, which is the salary and cap space that the Rams will need for the trade. Considering that Miller will replace someone on the roster that makes the net cost to the Rams no more than $355K.
This is a trade that I am not sure many teams outside of the Rams would make. The Rams are probably more aggressive in-season than any team in the NFL and look to maximize those windows when and if they can. I think it is an approach more teams should take as 7 or 8 games should give you a decent idea as to whether or not you are a deep playoff team or a draft watcher. If you are a playoff contender there is zero reason to wait until the next year to make a trade in the offseason or to overpay in free agency when there is so much fluctuation year to year in the NFL. Take the opportunity if it presents itself when you know you are good and that is what the Rams did here and continue to do.
As for the cost, trades like this are hard to value and the numbers are all over the place. Years ago the Browns more or less paid $18 million for a 2nd round pick in what was a really bad trade that involved Brock Osweiler. The Panthers paid $7 million earlier this year for a 6th round pick when they traded Teddy Bridgewater to the Broncos, though that saved the Panthers $3 million in additional guaranteed salary. The Jets paid $4 million for a 3rd and 4th round selection from the Giants who acquired Leonard Williams. The list goes on and on. There really isnt a hard and fast rule beyond finding a way to get a player to fit on the other team’s salary cap.
If I had to go out on a limb here I would think that Miller is worth around a 6th round pick in a straight trade. This guesstimate simply comes for the markets that existed for players like Justin Houston and Melvin Ingram of about $4 million for a season. $4 million roughly translates into a late 6th or early 7th round pick in the compensatory pick process. Miller is higher regarded than those two so maybe you could bump it a bit to a 5th, but I don’t think it would be much more. So basically the $9 million winds up saving the Rams a 5th and in return they pay the 2nd and 3rd to get Miller at effectively zero cost for the balance of the season. I think it is also worth noting that given the state of the Rams right now they should place more of a value on cap space and cash budget savings than the future value of a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick who would likely contribute long past the “window” with this group of players.
As for the Broncos this marks the end of an era where they are moving their last monster piece from their successful era that saw the team win a Super Bowl. They got a great career with Miller and wound up with two very good draft picks to help the team get younger and better in the future. Considering that the players mentioned above did not even sign until past the compensatory date odds are they never would have gotten anywhere close to this compensation for Miller. While the emotional attachment can make these decisions difficult I have to imagine from their side paying money that they were going to pay Miller anyway this year was a pretty easy decision to make once a 2nd rounder came into the equation. It was a trade they had to make.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.