The Denver Broncos received a big blow today when it was reported that Von Miller is facing a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. It was initially thought that he’d fight the suspension, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter now say that he’s “not likely” to fight the matter.
The league began investigating Miller when he provided a diluted urine sample, just after spilling a sample he gave during an offseason workout. He couldn’t give another sample right away, so he provided another one after consuming lots of fluids during the workout. This all amounted to suspicion that the 6’3″ 250-pound linebacker was trying to avoid giving a pure sample.
At this point, Miller is currently trying to convince the NFL to lessen his suspension to four games. But if he’s unsuccessful, it would mean the Broncos playing against the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles without their star defender.
Since being drafted out of Texas A&M with the second overall pick in 2011, Miller has been exceptional for Denver. In ’11, he attained Rookie of the Year honors after racking up 11.5 sacks. Last year Miller was a First-Team All-Pro after tallying 18.5 sacks in his second season.
Now the Broncos will likely lose this production for the first six games of the season. They won’t be the only losers in this matter either since Miller stands to miss $806,162 of his $2,284,125 base salary. It would prove even more costly if Denver tries to recoup the $1,215,265 signing bonus that their All-Pro is due.
Von Miller isn’t the only key defender that Denver will be without since they lost Elvis Dumervil in the offseason thanks to a fax machine error. The standout defensive end informed the Broncos that he’d accept a paycut to stay with them at 3:25 pm – 35 minutes before a 4:00 pm free agency deadline that had to be met. However, his now-fired agent Marty Magid didn’t fax the paperwork until 4:07 pm, seven minutes past the deadline. This forced Denver to release Dumervil, who provided them with 11 sacks last season.
With Dumervil now in Baltimore and Miller likely to miss much of the season’s first half, it’s very questionable as to if the Broncos can repeat their success. Last year they gained home field advantage throughout the playoffs after finishing 13-3. They lost 38-35 to the eventual champion Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Playoff round. However, this didn’t completely demolish what was otherwise a very good season.
Now Denver is facing an uphill battle without two of their most important defenders. Sure quarterback Peyton Manning is back with a full arsenal of weapons. But the D will have to get inventive with stopping opponents. Free agent pickup Shaun Phillips should provide some relief in Miller’s absence. The outside linebacker collected 9.5 sacks for San Diego last year. And fifth-round pick Quanterus Smith could be seeing a lot of time at defensive end. The 6’5″, 255-pounder compiled 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in his senior season at Western Kentucky.