There were a few months in the spring and summer of 2016 when Broncos’ pass-rushing linebacking Von Miller compared his football career and bank account to that of Miami defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Miller knew Suh was the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player with a six-year, $114.375 million contract and he wanted more.
He knew Suh had $59.955 million guaranteed and he wanted more.
He knew Suh’s average annual salary was $19.0625 million and he wanted more.
The fans and media kept urging Broncos’ general manager John Elway to pay Von Miller -- who was coming a Super Bowl 50 MVP performance --- more, more, more.
Von got more. He wound up with a $114.5 million contract that had $70 million in guarantees and averaged 19.0833 million a year.
This Sunday, the NFL’s two highest-paid defensive players will share Hard Rock Stadium in Miami when the Dolphins and Broncos square off.
Miller and Suh is a more intriguing matchup than Denver-Miami.
Miller has a personal rivalry with Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who went No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft to Miller’s No. 2. But it’s not the same between the No. 1 highest-paid defensive player and No. 2.
“No, I think it’s different with defensive guys,’’ Miller said. “It’s just not like that. I respect his game. I respect the player he is. I respect the person he is on and off the football field. I don’t know Suh personally, but in the Nation Football League, in the NFL, it is a small fraternity of brothers. Just because I don’t know him on a personal basis, I feel like I know him. I feel like I know his reputation. It’s just top of the line. I would love to play with a guy like that.”
One other thing Miller knows, or at least he once knew about Suh: His contract. Suh is now No. 2. Only problem with riches is it invites more scrutiny. Miller has 8.5 sacks this year, but only 1.5 in his last five games.
“The media has been being nice to me,'' Miller said. "With me, it’s like a weird situation because I feel like I can control every game. I just have to go out there and play. At the end of the day, you have to control what you can control and just play the game. When you get your contract, that’s to put that behind you. I really don’t even think about that. I come in here every day, same Von. Go work out, same Von. Get on the football field, same Von. I really don’t even think about it. When I was younger, like Year 1-5, I thought about it every day and after every game. But now, I just focus on my game and focus on my teammates. I guess you just feel free. I feel more entitled to say something to my teammates and say something to the guys and come up here every day and be the same person.”