The use of the franchise tag has been a functional option for John Elway and the Denver Broncos, who must negotiate with linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller on a blockbuster contract this offseason.
According to Jeff Legwold of ESPN, Elway has used the tag three times in the past four years. In all three cases, the Broncos were able to sign the player to a long-term deal before the end of the negotiation window.
It is widely expected that the Broncos will need to use the tag to keep Miller—who had 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in the Super Bowl—away from free agency in March.
Denver will hope Elway can work some more tag magic this offseason.
Since 2012, Elway has given the franchise tag to kicker Matt Prater, offensive tackle Ryan Clady and receiver Demaryius Thomas. All three eventually signed lucrative, multi-year deals with the Broncos during the month of July, near the deadline for the negotiation window.
The Broncos can tag Miller starting next Tuesday. The two-week period runs through the first Tuesday in March. From there, any player given the franchise tag has until July 15th to work out a long-term deal with his respective team. If no new contract is agreed upon, the two sides aren’t allowed to restructure the deal during the season. The franchise tender becomes fully guaranteed for one year at a set price.
Elway should have no interest in allowing Miller—a 26-year-old edge rusher with 60 career sacks and four Pro Bowl appearances—to get a crack at free agency. The Broncos will attempt to get a long-term deal done by the tag deadline, but if nothing is completed, Elway will have no choice but to use the tag to extend the negotiation period and keep Miller away from the open market.
From there, it’ll be on the two sides to get Miller’s mega contract done before the July deadline.
“The goal is always to get a long-term deal,” Elway said.
Miller figures to command a contract worth over $100 million, with at least $50 million guaranteed. Legwold believes the Broncos will first need to use the tag before agreeing to a long-term deal with their star pass-rusher.