On April 28, 2011, Von Miller and Patrick Peterson were both top 5 picks in the NFL Draft. Miller went no. 2 overall to the Broncos, and Peterson was selected by Arizona fifth overall. Both players are now entering the fourth seasons of their respective NFL careers. On July 30, 2014, Patrick Peterson signed a five year extension with his team worth $70 million, of which $48 million is guaranteed. Von Miller did not.
How did we get here, a point by which one top five talent now has a family that is set for generations, while another is trying to rebuild his image and put his career back on the rails? It’s pretty simple actually. Peterson has approached his career with maturity and professionalism; Miller has a track record of unreliability and instability. While Peterson is looked to as a cornerstone of the Cardinals organization, Miller simply represents a question mark.
The front office in Arizona views Peterson as a face of the franchise, and his teammates look to him as a voice of leadership in the locker room. At no point has anyone ever read about Peterson facing a suspension, having issues with drugs, ducking a lifetime ban from the game, missing a court date, or being denied entry to a party thrown by an opponent (after the Super Bowl no less). With Miller, well, that just happens to be the guy’s recent resume.
The shame of it all is that Miller, with 30 sacks in his first two years, including 18.5 in 2012, should be celebrating the same kind of long term contract awarded to Peterson on Wednesday. Instead, Miller is looking at a 5th year option deal that doesn’t even become guaranteed until March 2015. If the Broncos so choose, they could cut him loose at season’s end and be on the hook for absolutely nothing. Yes, a 5th year option for just under $10 million is a pretty sweet deal. But in the relative terms of big time NFL money, it’s got nothing on $48 million guaranteed.
What should inspire Miller to knock off the knucklehead stuff and prove his dedication to his craft is that he is by no means a lesser talent than Peterson. Heck, Miller may be better at his craft of rushing the passer than Peterson is at being a shutdown corner. Yet, Miller has forced himself to have to play the “prove it” game to John Elway to show he can stay out of trouble. Should the Broncos be handing $48 million guaranteed to Von Miller? Of course not. The Cardinals were smart to lock up Peterson for the long haul, just like the Broncos would be best suited to wait and see with Miller to see if he can finally turn into an adult and put up some year-to-year consistency.
Things have looked promising on the field thus far in training camp for Miller. On Wednesday, he finally got in some work in 11-on-11 situations, and looked good doing so. His rehab from a torn ACL has been said to have gone great, and he appears on track to be full-go by the season opener. But Von Miller the football player has never really been the issue. It’s the guy doing dope and generally being a dope that has prevented him pulling down the same kind of big time cash that is being dished out to his peers.