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Denver Broncos want Miller back but legal, money issues loom

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is coming off a serious ankle injury and will be 32 when the new season comes. That, plus potential legal problems, have his future uncertain with the team he helped win Super Bowl 50.

ENGLEWOOD – New general manager George Paton said Thursday the Denver Broncos want Von Miller back in 2021, but they want to hear more about an off-field investigation into the star linebacker.

The Broncos and Miller are awaiting a decision from the district attorney in the 18th Judicial District in suburban Denver following an unspecified domestic investigation of Miller by the Parker police department in January.

Neither the police nor the district attorney’s office have said what charges Miller could face. Miller, who missed all of last season with an ankle injury, hasn’t responded to requests for comment. If charges are filed, he could also face discipline from the NFL.

The results of the unspecified probe could play a role in whether Miller has played his last snap for the Broncos, whom he led to a Super Bowl title five years ago.

“We’re still working through it with Von, his agent, and in regards to the legal process, we’re just going to let the legal process play out,” Paton said. “But, obviously, it’s a serious situation, but we want to let it play out before we comment on that.”

Miller, who turns 32 in three weeks, is heading into the final season of the six-year, $114.5 million deal he signed in 2016 shortly after winning Super Bowl 50 MVP honors.

The Broncos have until March 16 to exercise Miller’s 2021 option, which would guarantee $7 million of his $17.5 million base salary.

If the Broncos release Miller, their all-time sacks leader, they would face a dead-money charge of $4.125 million against the salary cap for the upcoming season, far less than the $22.125 million cap charge if the team picks up his option.

Paton also didn’t rule out discussions about a pay cut for Miller to return, although J.J. Watt’s two-year, $31 million deal with Arizona that he signed this week would seem to rule out any interest on Miller’s part on taking less money to stay in Denver.

Asked whether the eight-time Pro Bowl selection’s future in Denver could depend on a reduction in salary, Paton said: “We want to bring Von back; we’re still working through that, I don’t want to get into everything, but we want to bring him back. The legal process, what he’s going through, it’s a serious situation, obviously, and I don’t know all the details, but we respect what’s going on. We do want Von back.”

Miller was John Elway’s first draft pick in 2011, when he was the No. 2 overall selection behind Cam Newton. He is the team’s all-time sacks leader with 106 quarterback takedowns. Elway recently stepped down as the team’s GM and was replaced by Paton, a former Minnesota Vikings executive.

Among other topics Paton addressed was third-year quarterback Drew Lock.

“We’re always going to bring in competition at every position, quarterback as well, but I like the track Drew’s on,” Paton said. “He does have all the traits you look for in a quarterback.”

Paton said he’s had “good discussions” with safety Justin Simmons’ agent on a long-term deal. The Broncos can buy themselves more time by placing the franchise tag on Simmons for a second consecutive season.

“I don’t know if we’ll get a deal done or not, but that’s our goal,” Paton said. “He’s the type of guy we’d want to extend.”

Paton also said the team will tender restricted free agents Phillip Lindsay, Tim Patrick and Alexander Johnson. He said he’s trying to re-sign Shelby Harris before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and Paton also indicated he was talking to Kareem Jackson’s agents about a contact restructure.

“We’ve got to work through some things; we’d like Kareem back,” Paton said.