Will Broncos Use Von Miller Criminal Probe as Excuse to Dump Him?

Von Miller meeting the press after an October 2019 Broncos win over the Tennessee Titans.
Von Miller meeting the press after an October 2019 Broncos win over the Tennessee Titans. YouTube file photo
On Friday, January 15, the National Football League was abuzz over a mysterious story involving Von Miller: The Parker Police Department confirmed that the Denver Broncos' biggest star was under criminal investigation, but wouldn't say why or for what.

Almost a week later, no charges have been filed, and the Parker police haven't released any new details. In a January 19 response to Westword, PPD public-information officer Rebecca Wards states: "The case is currently under investigation, and no information can be released at this time. If the investigation determines a crime has occurred, charges will be submitted to the DA's Office for their review."

The Broncos issued a single line about the Miller matter on January 15: "We are aware of an investigation involving Von Miller and are in process of gathering more information." On January 19, the team confirmed that this sentence remains the most recent statement on the matter.

Days later, in the absence of more information about the investigation itself, some of the focus is turning to who leaked the news, with the team itself a chief suspect, owing in part to the person behind the scoop: 9News's Mike Klis, known as the station's "Broncos Insider" — and that sobriquet isn't mere hype.

Meanwhile, it's been rumored for months that the Broncos might be interested in moving on from Miller, an action encouraged by sports writers like Mark Kizla, who argued in a recent Denver Post column that the Super Bowl 50 MVP be cut.

Miller turns 32 in March, which is ancient for a speed rusher in the NFL. Moreover, he has underperformed in recent years and missed all of the 2020-2021 campaign with an ankle injury. There's no guarantee he'll come back at anywhere near top form, yet he's supposed to be paid like a superstar.

As pointed out by CBS Sports, Miller is entering the final year of a $114.5 million contract he inked in 2016, and 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 it could use in inking Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons, who was franchise-tagged last season, to the long-term contract he so richly deserves.

New Broncos general manager George Paton, whose hiring seems a transparent ploy to take the heat off John Elway for the team's horrific mediocrity in recent years, is said to want Miller back, but not at his full salary. Whether that's mere spin is unclear — but the Broncos' proclivity for engaging in whispering campaigns against veterans they want to ditch is hardly in dispute: Consider the stealthy denigration of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders prior to the receiver being dealt to the San Francisco 49ers in 2019.

Right now, the criminal probe represents a shadow over Miller, who notched a pair of traffic-related arrests in 2013 but has been a solid citizen and major philanthropist via his Von's Vision Foundation during the years since then. Don't be surprised if the Broncos use it as leverage to get him to take a pay cut, or to cushion the blow with fans should they choose to bid him adieu. 
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts