Commentary: The line from the Von Miller trade to Aaron Rodgers in Denver
Think of it as more of a rental than a trade.
In exchange, Denver acquired the Rams’ picks in the second and third rounds of next spring’s draft. It’s a good deal for the Broncos, who didn’t plan to re-sign the eight-time Pro Bowl selection after this season anyway and only would have received a fifth-round compensatory pick in 2023 had they let him walk as a free agent.
That draft capital (along with the salary-cap space) will help the Broncos in their offseason quarterback shopping, with a wish list that includes Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
With those additional draft picks in hand, the Broncos paid all but $700,000 of the remainder of Miller’s $17.5-million contract, so he was economical for the Rams. A week earlier, they sent linebacker Kenny Young to Denver in a deal that was favorable to the Broncos.
As for the 7-1 Rams, they get an elite pass rusher in Miller, who at 32 still has life in his legs. He was the AFC defensive player of the month in September, although he cooled in October — as did the Broncos — and is recovering from a sprained ankle. But he likely will be ready to go for Sunday night’s game against Tennessee at SoFi Stadium.
Surprising as the move was, it was very on-brand for the Rams, who have never flinched about surrendering future draft picks if it means making their team better right away. Look at the deals for Matthew Stafford and Jalen Ramsey.
Suddenly, with Miller coming off the edge, Rams opponents are going to have a tough time double-teaming superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Any defensive front that has Leonard Floyd as the third-best pass rusher is something to behold.
Even though Miller collected just a half-sack over the last four games (he sat out Sunday), teams still paid a lot of attention to him, using running backs and tight ends to chip him and frequently double-teaming him. He’s still a considerable presence.
Broncos coach Vic Fangio asked a lot of Miller, dropping him into coverage, relying on him in run support and the like. He could be highly effective if the Rams use him as a pure pass rusher, just as Dante Fowler was used when he was acquired during the 2018 season.
What’s more, Miller is known as a leader and good guy in the locker room, someone who is friends with everyone from practice-squad players to starters. His best pal with the Broncos is kicker Brandon McManus, now the only remaining holdover from Super Bowl 50. Miller was named most valuable player of that victory over Carolina.
The Broncos are on the hunt for a quarterback, and Rodgers is believed to be at the top of their list. His future with the Packers is as clear as a Wisconsin whiteout. After a tumultuous offseason in which the 2020 NFL MVP strongly indicated he wouldn’t be coming back to the team, Rodgers and the Packers reached an agreement that reportedly would set him up for a possible exit from Green Bay after this season — a year earlier than his contract would allow.
But it’s increasingly clear Rodgers is having fun on this 7-1 team, and he’s even complimented the Green Bay front office at times, recently in regard to the signing of linebacker Whitney Mercilus. So it’s unclear whether he will want to stay or go.
The Seahawks’ Wilson is also a potential option for Denver, and to a lesser degree Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and possibly — depending on his complicated and disturbing legal status — Houston’s Deshaun Watson.
Regardless, the Broncos have time. The Rams see their moment as now.