With A New Contract, How Will Von Miller Respond To The Heightened Expectations Of The Media & Fans?

With a new mega-contract comes heightened expectations. Can Von Miller live up to them?

For the foreseeable future, Von Miller is going to be a Denver Bronco. With the negotiation saga of the last few months, contract squabbles have now been put to bed—the business of football can begin.

As for Von Miller, business is very good. The Super Bowl MVP is now the highest-paid defensive player in league history and the highest paid non-quarterback.

When a player signs a deal like the one Miller got, it comes with two things you can count on. The first is the financial windfall that comes in at the tune of $114.5 million over six years, with $70 million guaranteed. The next certainty is the scrutiny he will face from prognosticators and fans alike. 

Frankly put, what can we expect from Von Miller this year? Without him, the Broncos might not have won Super Bowl 50. Until Miller re-signed, the Broncos prospects at defending their World Championship were dubious.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1686948-miller-s-agent-reportedly... With that in mind, how harshly should he be scrutinized by both the media and the fans?

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and look at the Demaryius Thomas situation from last year. While the negotiations were not quite as acrimonious, Thomas inked a five-year, $70 million dollar deal, which instantly brought the heightened expectations. 

For argument's sake, let's take out the dollar amount of Thomas' contract and just focus on his productivity from last year. There are a lot of NFL wide receivers who could stand to earn a raise if they went out and put up a stat line of 105 receptions for 1,304 yards and six touchdowns. Throw in that the quarterback play was below average and there wouldn’t be much to complain about, right?

You would be wrong. While the numbers do not tell the whole story of Thomas’ season, by all accounts, he did put up respectable numbers worthy of his contract. What had changed were the expectations the fans and media unfairly put on him, once the ink had dried on his signature.

From there, every mistake was magnified. A slow start to the season left many fans wondering whether Thomas’ offseason would have been better spent in Denver during OTA’s. From that point, it would only get worse. A drop-filled game against New England in Week 12 led many fans to howl that the money spent on him wasn’t worth it, despite the fact that a big catch late in the game set up a go-ahead score, eventually giving Denver a win. 

RELATEDWatch Von Miller's Top-10 Plays of 2015

For every great play Thomas would make, like a big catch and run for a score against San Diego, it would quickly be forgotten or glossed over, and a drop in traffic would be met with a chorus of boos from the 'faithful' at Mile High.

Despite Thomas owning up to his sub-par play, the backlash never got much better. A miserable postseason run that saw him catch only seven passes and no touchdowns followed Thomas well into this offseason, with many fans asking for him to take a pay-cut to keep other players, or to even be traded.

How does this apply to Von Miller? With his Super Bowl victory tour now over, it would appear that the player will now get back to the matter of football and start preparing accordingly for the upcoming camp that is less than two weeks away. But if anyone has been listening to Denver sports radio, or reading certain online blogs, the blowback from the fans has the potential to get hostile quickly.

If Miller blows a hammy early in camp, the whispers will start almost immediately. Quips like, “he should have been here at OTA’s” or “he should have been here like Brandon Marshall was”, will almost certainly gain a following. While the circumstances of Miller’s and Marshall’s contracts are drastically different, many diehards will not be pleased to see him watching from the sidelines, nursing an injury, instead of out with the team during camp.

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1686913-broncos-defense-poised-to... When the season starts, there's a good chance he'll go a game or two without a sack—he had a two-game streak last year without one. I can almost assuredly say there will be a cacophony of restless criticism that will come with it. Like the drops that Thomas had just a season ago, will the fans turn on the player who almost single-handedly brought them a World title? 

It could even be seen during the contract talks that Von showed a potentially problematic character flaw, with him saying his feeling were hurt during the talks. If his feeling were hurt by fan negativity, then it isn't a stretch to say that his typical happy-go-lucky attitude will be absent when fans are booing him. It would be easier to imagine the anguished looks of Thomas last year finding the face of the jovial Miller this upcoming year.

The great urban philosopher, The Notorious B.I.G said it best, “mo money, mo problems”. With several more zeros and commas in the bank, Miller has now acquired something he may not have intended to, or even thought about—a giant magnifying glass.

That scrutiny will now critique his every move on the field as well as off it. By signing his new mega-deal with the team, can Von Miller still be the lovable goofball off the field—if he isn’t the most terrifying monster on it? 

Expectations are a funny phenomena, especially when it comes to sports. Von Miller is one of, if not the, best defensive players in football. He is now going to be paid like it. Should the expectations for him be higher due to that simple fact? Maybe, but they should also be fair.

Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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