A year after rebuffing almost all trade inquiries ahead of the deadline, Broncos general manager John Elway is more seriously mulling big moves in the coming weeks, league sources said, with some rival general managers hopeful that overhaul could include even pass rushing legend Von Miller.
The Broncos, winless amid another coaching change and with a roster aging in key spots, have already begun getting exploratory trade calls ahead of the deadline, league sources said, with a handful of contending teams making it clear they value several of Denver's veterans -- Miller; defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, 29; corner Chris Harris, 30; and receiver Emmanuel Sanders, 32. Elway declined to deal many of those same players at the deadline a year ago, with multiple offers on the table, but the scope of Denver's prolonged losing and a need for future draft picks to rebuild has led to Elway more seriously considering such moves in 2019, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Elway has yet to agree to shed talent, but has given the impression to teams that he could reach that point in a matter of weeks if this slide continues. Losing star pass rusher Bradley Chubb for the season last week further clouded their hopes for 2019, potential future quarterback Drew Lock is injured and the offense has been stagnant, while a once-potent defense has lacked bite as well.
Sanders, Harris and Wolfe are all free agents at the end of the season and sources said that they have no intent to re-sign with the Broncos at this point. Any compensatory picks for them would not come until 2021 if they left as free agents, and there are numerous teams interested in one or more of that trio (Eagles, Saints, Ravens, Patriots and Chiefs, to name a few). All remain quality players, but, at this stage of their career, getting to a contender would be highly appealing to them, I'm told.
Miller has two years left on his deal, in the form of successive team options each worth $18 million a season -- in line with elite pass rushers and not cumbersome, as all of the big bonuses and guarantees have already been paid. There are differences of opinion in some front offices as to how transformational Miller, 30, still is, but several teams are scouting him closely with an eye to giving Elway something to consider, sources said.
Pass rush is always at a premium and Miller would not be averse to a change of scenery, given Denver's recent woes -- the Broncos are 11-25 since the start of 2017 and have churned through coaches since winning the Super Bowl in 2015 -- and the likely arduous rebuild ahead. While it may be difficult for some to imagine the ebullient linebacker elsewhere, market forces are aligning in a way that the Broncos are going to likely have multiple offers to consider.