ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos are continuing to work through their options ahead of a March 16 deadline to exercise Von Miller's team option, but General Manager George Paton's stance is clear.
He would like No. 58 to remain in Denver.
"We want to bring Von back," Paton said Thursday. "We're still working through that. I don't want to get into everything, but we want to bring him back."
Paton declined to comment on specifics of a current investigation involving Miller, saying the team would let the legal process "play out."
"Obviously the legal process, what he's going through, it's a serious situation obviously," Paton said. "I don't know all the details, but we respect what's going on."
The team has several choices as it approaches a decision on Miller's status. The team could pick up his existing option, restructure his contract for only 2021, negotiate a new contract or decline his option. The final option could be done in conjunction with a restructure or new negotiation.
Miller, the team's all-time sack leader, did not play in 2020 after suffering a season-ending ankle injury ahead of the team's Week 1 game. He recorded eight sacks in 2019, which broke a streak of five seasons in which Miller recorded double-digit sacks.
The nine-time Pro Bowler has spent his entire career with the Broncos since being selected with the second-overall pick in 2011.
The Broncos must also choose, in the same time frame, whether to exercise safety Kareem Jackson's contract option. Paton said he believes the decision would be made independent of the team's negotiations with Justin Simmons. He has spoken with both Jackson and Jackson's agent.
"We've got to work through some things, but we've had positive conversations," Paton said. "We would like Kareem back. He's a good football player, he's a good leader, and we'll see if we can do that."
BACK IN THE LINEUP
In addition to whichever free agents the Broncos sign and the draft picks they acquire, they may also get a boon from the return of right tackle Ja'Wuan James. Paton said he has spoken to James and that the 2019 free-agent addition is "ready to go" for 2021.
"He said he missed football and he's looking forward to getting here and working and being with his teammates," Paton said. "I'm looking forward to meeting him and seeing him play next year."
James' return could fill a hole for the Broncos' offense, as Elijah Wilkinson and Demar Dotson — who split time at right tackle in 2020 — are both slated to be unrestricted free agents. James opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. In 2019, he appeared in just three games and played 63 offensive snaps as he battled a lingering knee injury.
"I've talked to him a couple times," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "He definitely is planning on coming back and being part of the team moving forward. He's down south right now training. I'm expecting him back here mid-to-late March for him to start training here with us, using our facilities. And then obviously if OTAs come about, partaking in those. We're counting on and anticipating him being part of our team next year."
'THOSE GUYS ARE PROS'
As the Broncos make decisions on the slew of veteran players mentioned above, they'll enter the 2021 season without A.J. Bouye or Jurrell Casey. The team released both players in recent weeks after just one season with the team.
"Those guys are pros, they've been in the league a long time," Paton said. "Just thought it was best to release them early so they can go out and get on the market before other players get cut. Those guys are great players, great careers. We just wanted to get them out there early."
Denver acquired Bouye and Casey for a fourth-round and seventh-round pick, respectively, but neither player made the desired impact in 2020. Bouye appeared in just seven games during a season that was marred by injury and a suspension. Casey, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending injury in the Broncos' Week 3 game.
'OUT OF OUR HANDS'
The Broncos will have a decision to make regarding Phillip Lindsay's future, but Paton said the team is also "gathering information" about a continuing situation with Melvin Gordon III stemming from a DUI citation last season.
"It's kind of out of our hands," Paton said. "It's in the league's hands and it's a legal process. He's a good football player. Not sure what's going to happen with him but we like him as a player."
Gordon could face a three-game suspension from the league in 2021.