The LA Rams and Denver Broncos agreed to a trade on Monday, sending eight-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Von Miller to SoCal in exchange for a second and third round draft pick in 2022. It’s a considerable price to pay for Miller, a 32-year-old in the final year of his contract and one who didn’t even play a down in 2020. But the financial details reveal how the Broncos were able to receive a probable second and third round pick next year for only a half-season rental of Von Miller.
The Broncos agreed to pay $9 million of the $9.7 million remaining on Von Miller’s 2021 salary, meaning that the pass rusher is essentially a “free player” on a roster that can’t afford many more expensive ones. Miller is expected to be ready to go by Week 9’s game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football.
As part of the trade, the Broncos are paying $9 million of Von Miller’s remaining $9.7 million salary, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 1, 2021
According to OverTheCap.com, the Rams have about $5.3 million in 2021 cap space before adding the $700,000 that will go to Von Miller. The fact that Les Snead didn’t want to use more cap space for Miller would seem to indicate that he has more plans left to unfold, possibly even before Tuesday’s trading deadline.
It’s a great advantage for LA to be able to add a player of Miller’s abilities at midseason given how little cap space they should have right now, but also a risk because Miller will be a free agent in 2022 and that makes him a half-season rental. If the Rams do not reach the Super Bowl, they’ll be left with disappointment and questions about going “all in” and leaving themselves without draft picks next year.
I’m told it’s a bit surreal in the #broncos facility right now as Von Miller is saying his goodbyes. The face of the franchise and a future Ring of Fame and Hall of Fame player traded midseason.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) November 1, 2021
Following the trade, the Rams are likely only left with one third, one fifth, and two seventh round picks, prior to any compensatory picks handed out in 2022. LA traded its own second rounder, but it is unclear if they are sending their own third round or the compensatory third rounder received for Brad Holmes being hired as GM of the Detroit Lions. In any case, the Rams will once again be afterthoughts during the draft.
In the hopes that they will be the focal point of the Super Bowl.
Aaron Donald and Miller are considered two of the top-five defensive players of the 2010’s and they now pair on LA’s defense, alongside Leonard Floyd and Terrell Lewis.
Highest-graded D-Linemen since 2011:— PFF (@PFF) November 1, 2021
1. Aaron Donald - 97.0
2. Von Miller - 94.6
Now they are teammates pic.twitter.com/LQfDo4BJX7
Von Miller has played in seven games this season after missing all of 2020, and he has created at least one pressure in every contest so far. The great news is that Miller had nine pressures in the first two weeks against the Giants and Jaguars, but the not-as-great news is that he has only seven pressures in the most recent five games. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio sent Miller on the blitz a whopping 16 times in Week 4 against the Ravens — he has only 17 blitzes in the other six games combined — but that only created a single pressure and a share of one sack.
However, Miller hasn’t been playing with Bradley Chubb and now he will be alongside the greatest interior pass rusher of all-time. I couldn’t put it any better than TST reader MarkLZCran during the initial breaking news:
Denver’s second-leading pass rusher was linebacker Malik Reed, who has four sacks in eight games, followed by defensive end Shelby Harris at 2.5.
Von Miller now goes to a Rams defense that has Leonard Floyd’s 6.5 sacks, followed by Donald’s 5.0 sacks, as well as three each for Lewis and Sebastian Joseph-Day. Justin Hollins, a former teammate of Miller’s in Denver, had two sacks in his three games prior to injury, and is eligible to return from IR this season too.
So the current situation for the LA Rams looks good: a defense that has not appeared to be nearly as stout as their top-five rankings just added a premier edge rusher who has had at least 20 QB hits in all eight healthy seasons that he’s had in his career.
The situation in 2022 is, if anything, a little more simple: The Rams won’t see any change to their 2022 salary cap because Miller is a free agent (LA is tight on cap space next year as is) and they will now be left with just four total draft picks, before adding probably three compensatory picks because of 2021 free agent losses. None of Les Snead’s picks will be in the first two rounds and it is possible that the Rams won’t even pick in the top-100 in 2022.
If they are also the reigning Super Bowl champions though, then who cares?
If they are not, then the light being shed on these decisions will turn a different color.