Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller will likely be suspended for six games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter report.
Miller has been in the process of appealing the suspension, which was triggered by a "diluted sample" after Miller had spilled a sample that was collected prior to an offseason workout. Miller could not immediately provide another sample, but did provide one after consuming fluids during the workout. Miller's appeal of that suspension was supposed to occur last week before it was delayed until Aug. 20.
According to the ESPN report, Miller is "not likely" to appeal the six-game suspension, which could be handed down as early as Monday. However, Miller's camp is negotiating with the NFL to possibly have the number of games he is suspended reduced to four.
If all this wasn't enough, Miller was also named as a potential witness in a death penalty murder case, the Denver Post reported. However, Miller is just one of more than 100 potential witnesses that could be called during sentencing, there's no indication Miller did anything wrong, and the team said he has "zero direct involvement in this case."
Still, it's one more thing Miller has to deal with.
Losing Miller for six games at the start of the season is a devastating blow to the Broncos' defense. A six-game ban means Miller will miss games against the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars. On the bright side, four of those games are at home, which could alleviate some of the damage. Two of those games – the Ravens and Raiders games – are in prime time.
Miller has gone to back-to-back Pro Bowls since being selected with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2011 NFL draft. Miller had 11.5 sacks in earning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and was a first-team All-Pro after posting 18.5 sacks in 2012. Without Miller and veteran defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who was released after a fax machine error prevented the paperwork from an agreed upon pay cut to be processed before his $12 million base salary become fully guaranteed, the Broncos could struggle to pressure opposing quarterbacks at the start of the 2013 season. The team will be leaning on veteran outside linebacker Shaun Phillips, a free agent addition this offseason who had 9.5 sacks for the San Diego Chargers last season. 2013 fifth-round pick Quanterus Smith could also see a larger role in pass-rushing situations at the start of the season.
Miller is scheduled to earn $2,284,125 in base salary this season and his six-game suspension means will cost him $806,162. The Broncos could also seek to recoup the prorated portion of his $13.773 million signing bonus, which would cost Miller an additional $1,215,265. All told, the six-game suspension could cost Miller $2,021,427.