ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Von Miller is no longer the face of the franchise in Denver.
The loquacious linebacker is headed West to join Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey with the Los Angeles Rams, according to two people with knowledge of Monday morning’s big trade.
Speaking on condition of anonymity because the teams hadn’t announced the trade, both people confirmed the deal first reported by ESPN.
The Rams are sending the Broncos second- and third-round picks in the 2022 draft for the perennial Pro Bowler who led Denver to a 24-10 win in Super Bowl 50 following the 2015 season, Peyton Manning’s last.
Miller’s trophy case includes his Super Bowl 50 MVP award and 2011 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honor. He’s an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, seven-time AP All-Pro and a member of the league’s 2010s All-Decade team.
He’s the Broncos’ franchise leader with 110½ sacks in the regular season and has another 6½ in the playoffs.
“ We’re all in,” the Rams (7-1) tweeted along with a meme of actor John Malkovich splashing the pot at the poker table.
And it looks as if the Broncos (4-4) are folding their hand.
With Miller watching from the sideline because of a sprained ankle, the Broncos edged Washington 17-10 Sunday, narrowly avoiding their first winless October since 1967.
But it took two defensive stops in the final minute because the Broncos bungled their last possession following safety Justin Simmons’ seemingly game-sealing end zone interception with 49 seconds left.
In between Teddy Bridgewater inexplicably throwing an incompletion to stop the clock with 32 seconds left and saving Washington a timeout, the Broncos fumbled twice, losing the second one at their 24 with 21 seconds remaining.
That served as a fitting farewell to Miller, who never got back to the playoffs with Denver after leading the Broncos to their Super Bowl 50 triumph following the 2015 season.
Plagued by instability at quarterback, unimaginative offensive play-calling, draft busts and free-agent flops, the once-proud franchise is mired in one of its longest runs of mediocrity since the 1960s. They haven’t had a winning record since 2016, three coaches ago.
Miller joins a Rams team that’s tied with the Packers and Cardinals for the NFL’s best record at 7-1. But the path to the Super Bowl — at the Rams’ home, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California — appears much rockier in the NFC with Dallas at 6-1 and defending champion Tampa Bay sitting at 6-2.
Only one team in the AFC has more than five wins: Tennessee is 6-2.
Miller, who’s in the final year of his contract, was sidelined all of last year with an ankle injury. He had a splashy comeback, winning the AFC Defensive Player of the Month honor in September when he had four sacks.
Despite a quiet October — save for guaranteeing he was going to destroy Cleveland’s offensive line — Miller was still considered a gem for contenders as Tuesday’s trade deadline approached.
Miller’s departure means kicker Brandon McManus is the only remaining member of the 2015 team that won the franchise’s third Super Bowl thanks to Miller’s memorable performance that cemented his legacy as one of his generation’s top pass rushers.
Miller had two strip-sacks of 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton which led to 15 points in Denver’s 24-10 upset of the heavily favored Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
That following summer, Miller signed a record six-year, $114.1 million contract.
Miller is making $17.5 million in the final year of his deal and the Broncos are picking up $9 million of the $9.722 million left on his contract.
So, they’re essentially getting $722,222 and two second-day draft picks for Miller. Losing him in free agency after the season would have netted them a third-round compensatory pick at best.
In LA, he joins fellow stars Donald and Ramsey, the type of talent he hasn’t had around him since the Broncos were regular Super Bowl threats during Manning’s four seasons in Denver from 2012-15.
Moreover, former Broncos and Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said Miller is a better fit in L.A.’s version of the 3-4 defensive scheme and should shine in sunny California.
Miller, 32, has mused all year about wanting to play several more seasons whether in Denver or elsewhere. He recently became a father and said he wants his boy to see him play in a few years.
AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed.