The other day I got a wild hair and tweeted out the idea that Dallas could try and sign Von Miller. That’s right; the reigning Super Bowl MVP and arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. Knowing that Miller was franchise tagged by the Denver Broncos, I included the price of signing him in my proposal.
Here’s a crazy idea… Dallas sends #4 and next year’s first to Denver for Von Miller. #CowboysNation
I get crazy ideas all the time and dismiss them quickly. This one, however, is still lingering. The more I think about it the less crazy I think it is.
Maybe I’ve still got stars in my eyes from the playoffs. Watching Miller dominate in the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl left a mark on me. No matter what sport you’re watching, you want the guys who are at their best when the lights are brightest.
I also recognize that I’m probably being influenced by the news of DeMarcus Lawrence’s four-game suspension. Having both Lawrence and Randy Gregory out to start next season is troubling, not just for those four games but for what they could face with another offense. If the drug is marijuana then the next offense is a 10-game suspension and it’s a whole year for other drugs.
So yes, I may be flirting with panic mode a little in this idea. Still, I can’t help but see the merit.
I know we’re talking about an enormous cost. Not only are you giving up the draft picks but you’d then have to sign Miller to a huge contract. However, looking at each of those factors separately makes them seem less daunting.
The word out of Denver is that Miller wants to be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL; topping the $19 million annual salary that Ndamukong Suh is enjoying in Miami. It’s not unreasonable given the season that Miller just had. In fact, I would argue that Miller’s stock right now is even higher than Suh’s was when he entered free agency.
As I recently discussed on our site, Dallas has a tight salary cap right now but has several options for clearing space. They can make room for a top-priced guy like Miller and can also find ways to structure the deal that keeps the cap hit low early only by front-loading the signing bonus.
They absolutely CAN make it work financially. The real question is whether or not the Cowboys’ front office would make such a dramatic shift from the way they’ve been managing contracts lately.
Dallas hasn’t spent big money on an external free agent in four years, the last being Brandon Carr in 2012. They’ve even been more judicious with their own guys, such as when they released DeMarcus Ware and declined to re-sign DeMarco Murray. However, as we’ve seen with the contracts of Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant, Dallas is still okay with paying top dollar to guys who have their full confidence.
The Draft Picks
I’m sure some would argue that giving up two first-round picks for any player is a bad idea. Others would say that they’d only do it for a quarterback. I don’t fault anyone who has either of these opinions.
That said, let’s really look at what you’re giving up. Assuming they don’t trade down, the Cowboys fourth-overall pick on Thursday night will likely bring them defensive back Jalen Ramsey or running back Ezekiel Elliott. What if Von Miller was in this class? Would he be the top guy on Dallas’ board?
Remember, Miller was the second pick in the 2011 draft. He was selected in one of the best top fives you’ll ever hear; after Cam Newton and ahead of Marcel Dareus, A.J. Green, and Patrick Peterson. He was the best pass rusher then and would easily be the best one in the 2016 class.
Now, I know that getting Miller at age 27 isn’t the same as age 22. But there is a trade off; you’re getting a sure thing. You’re acquiring a proven franchise player while he’s still in his prime as opposed to a guy who you can only hope will work out as well. For a team that’s trying to win during the limited window of Tony Romo’s remaining years, that’s a pretty big consideration.
As for the 2017 first-round pick, there are a few ways to look at that. If Dallas gets back to playoff contention with Romo’s return then that pick should be somewhere in the mid-20s. They had the 27th pick in 2015 after going 12-4 and winning the division. It’s certainly still a valuable pick but, ideally, won’t be nearly the same as giving up something at the top of the draft.
Also, let’s be honest about draft picks; there’s not much more than a 50-50 chance that they work out. Again, we’re talking a proven commodity in Von Miller as opposed to two rookies. Let’s say you keep those picks and one kid completely busts (e.g. Mike Jenkins) and the other is a solid but ultimately disappointing pick (e.g. Terence Newman, Greg Ellis). You can’t ignore that potential when looking at the value of picks compared to an established veteran.
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Again, I’m not saying this is the right way to go or even a great idea. It’s fraught with risk and goes against the more conservative roster management strategy that we’ve seen from Dallas in recent years. I ultimately applaud that approach and am excited for the team’s future based on it.
Of course, Dallas could make the leap to try and sign Miller and Denver would just match the deal. We have to mention that possibility, although I think the Broncos would be very enticed to take the picks given where they are in contract negotiations and with their roster overall. Their ugly quarterback situation may have them thinking more about the long-term then trying to win back-to-back championships.
On paper, Dallas is the team that needs a guy like Von Miller far more than Denver. They’re the team with a solid infrastructure trying to get a title before their aging quarterback retires, much like the Broncos last year. If there was ever a time to go against the conservative strategy and make a bold move, it is now.
I know this likely would never happen and it just a fun hypothetical. But the draft and dreaming tend to go hand and hand, don’t they?