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| Sports |

Von Miller Criminal Investigation Update as Trade Rumors Explode

A screen capture from a 2016 NFL video spotlighting Von Miller's best sack dances.
A screen capture from a 2016 NFL video spotlighting Von Miller's best sack dances.
NFL via YouTube
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More than a month has passed since the Parker Police Department confirmed that Denver Broncos superstar Von Miller was the subject of an unspecified criminal probe — and it's not over yet. PPD Professional Standards Officer Glenna Villers's response to Westword's inquiry on the subject is just six words long: "The case is still under investigation."

In the days after January 15, when the agency's probe went public, trade rumors have exploded; Miller's uncertain legal status could help the Broncos fend off public-relations blowback should the franchise choose to move on from the hero of Super Bowl 50 (he was named the game's Most Valuable Player). And as of February 18, the Broncos reportedly have not reached out to Miller's agent to determine if there's a financially feasible way for him to remain in orange.

Miller is entering the final year of a $114.5 million contract he inked in 2016; if he's on the roster, he'll count $22.15 million toward the Broncos salary cap. If he's not, the Broncos will save $18 million that the team can use to secure other talent.

A few weeks back, the likeliest beneficiary of such a windfall seemed to be Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons, who was franchise-tagged last season and richly deserves a long-term contract. But now a new target has emerged: standout quarterback Deshaun Watson, who's clearly disgruntled with his current squad, the Houston Texans, and appears to be trying to force his exit. Should the Texans be unable to change his mind, the Broncos are now favored to land him, according to multiple betting sites, including this one.

In the view of 9News's Mike Klis, new Broncos general manager George Paton has four options when it comes to Miller: restructure his contract to reduce his average salary; pick up his $7 million option and allow him to play out his final year at the full $18 million; decline the option and release him; or pay the $7 million and peddle him to the highest bidder.

CBS Sports's Chris Trapasso expects no shortage of interest should the Broncos opt for the trade strategy. In his list of potential salary-cap casualties who can fill roster holes, Trapasso places Miller at number one, deeming his 2021 impact as "high." After acknowledging his age (32) and the fact that he sat out the 2020 campaign with ankle problems, Trapasso writes: "This is a J.J. Watt-type player likely entering the market — soon. Miller can absolutely still perform, and while the injury makes him a little less appealing, the three-time All-Pro can be that veteran presence who elevates a team in 2021."

There's no indication that Miller's trade value has dropped because of the ongoing criminal investigation — and each day that passes with no action will only reinforce this view.

There have been more than thirty of them so far.

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