ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The time has come for the Broncos to begin, if not finalize, their thinking about the contract status on two of their most prominent defensive players.
A team option window on the financial guarantee for Von Miller and Kareem Jackson begins Friday and concludes March 16, or the day before free agency officially begins.
Miller has a $7 million guarantee option on an $18 million payout for 2021, the final year of what had been an NFL-record six-year contract. Jackson has a $1.5 million option guarantee on his $10 million salary in 2021.
> Above video: Mike Klis on Denver's options with Von Miller and reacting to the Carson Wentz trade to the Colts
While the Broncos can exercise the guaranteed portion of those contracts at anytime between Friday and March 16 – again $7 million for Miller and $1.5 million for Jackson -- teams typically wait until closer to the option window closing date.
The Broncos could A. Exercise the option guarantees on Miller and Jackson and still try to negotiate a reduced overall payout for the 2021 season; B. Exercise the guarantees and pay them what they are currently scheduled to make; or, C. Decline those options which would release those players to free agency. A less-likely fourth possibility would be to exercise the option for the guarantee and trade them at a later date.
Following Miller’s sensational 2015 postseason that was capped with a Super Bowl 50 MVP award, he signed a six-year, $114.5 million contract extension for a $19.083 million annual average that set a record among NFL defensive players, a record that held for two years. Miller lived up to the first half of that deal as he recorded 13.5 (2016), 10.0 (2017) and 14.5 sacks (2018). But then Miller slumped to 8.5 sacks in 2019 and he missed all of the 2020 season with an ankle injury.
Miller, who turns 32 in March, is also under criminal investigation by the Parker Police Department. No charges have been filed, although a Parker police spokesman said this week the investigation remains active.
Jackson played nine years with the Houston Texans as a cornerback, then switched to hard-hitting safety after he signed a three-year, $33 million contract with the Broncos prior to the 2019 season. Jackson has performed up to the first two years and $23 million on his deal but he will turn 33 in April.
There is also the question of how much the Broncos want to spend at their safety position knowing their other starter, Justin Simmons, figures to make at least $13.73 million under a second franchise tag in 2021 – and possibly more if he and the team can reach agreement on a multiyear extension.
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