LB Von Miller agree on six-year contract; TE O.J. Howard gets 1-year deal

Eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller has agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills on a six-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

Von Miller

LB Von Miller agree on six-year contract; TE O.J. Howard gets 1-year deal

Miller’s deal is worth $120 million, according to multiple reports. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that it includes $51.5 million guaranteed, including $45 million fully guaranteed at signing.

The Bills also brought in the veteran tight end they were looking for, agreeing with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard on a one-year contract. Sources told Schefter it’s a $3.5 million deal that could be worth up to $5 million.

Miller immediately becomes the best pass-rusher on the Bills’ roster, despite the team significantly investing in defensive ends in the past two drafts. Buffalo has used two second-round picks and one first-round selection on the position in the past two years but lacked a player that opposing offenses needed to be consistently aware of.

Miller brings the Bills just that. His 41 pressures last season would’ve been the most on the Bills; Jerry Hughes had a team-high 37 pressures for a defense that generated pressure at the second-highest rate last season (34% of dropbacks).

“I’m always gonna put resources in the front. It’s just how I believe it should be built,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said earlier this offseason. “And don’t ever be shocked if you see us trying to add there, free agency or the draft, at any point.”

LB Von Miller agree on six-year contract; TE O.J. Howard gets 1-year deal

Miller, who turns 33 on March 26, was a key piece of the Los Angeles Rams’ run to the Super Bowl championship after he was acquired from the Denver Broncos in November for 2022 second- and third-round picks.

Initially slowed by an ankle injury suffered while still in Denver, Miller recorded five sacks for the Rams in eight regular-season games, ranking 12th in ESPN’s pass rush win rate metric (20.9%). He then proceeded to record four more sacks in the postseason, including two of the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow in the Rams’ 23-20 victory in Super Bowl LVI.

Miller’s postseason pass rush win rate of 41.5% was by far the highest by a player in a single postseason (with a minimum of 30 pass rush plays with a win or loss) since ESPN started tracking that metric in 2017. He and teammate Aaron Donald both had 18 pressures in the Rams’ four playoff games.

It was Miller’s second Super Bowl championship. He was named the Super Bowl 50 MVP when he had 2.5 sacks in the Broncos’ 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers, a team that included Bills coach Sean McDermott as Panthers defensive coordinator and Brandon Beane as a member of the front office.

Buffalo has not had a player finish a season with 10-plus sacks since Lorenzo Alexander in 2016 (12.5). Mario Addison was the only Bills defender with at least five sacks last season (seven). The Bills were one of four teams (Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs) that had one or fewer players with five-plus sacks. The team was involved in the pursuit of other veteran pass-rushers this offseason, as well as rounding out the defensive line with other free-agent signings.

Miller leads all active players with 115.5 sacks in his career. He has recorded at least 10 sacks in seven of his 10 NFL seasons, including a career-best 18.5 in 2012 when he finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting. He missed the 2020 season because of a left ankle injury that required surgery.

He was John Elway’s first draft pick for the Broncos (second overall in 2011) and went on to be named Defensive Rookie of the Year that season. He became one of the most decorated players in Broncos’ franchise history with eight Pro Bowl selections and three first-team All-Pro selections, and he was chosen for the all-decade team for the 2010s by the Hall of Fame’s board of selectors.

Howard, 27, will work alongside tight end Dawson Knox, who is coming off a career season, catching 49 passes for 587 yards. Knox, who became a go-to target for quarterback Josh Allen, finished 2021 tied with Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski for the most receiving touchdowns at the position (nine).

Howard will add yet another weapon for Allen and likely introduce more two tight-end sets to the offense under first-year coordinator Ken Dorsey. The Bills used two-plus tight ends on a league-low 100 plays last season, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Howard had 400-plus receiving yards in three straight seasons to start his career, before Gronkowski’s arrival in Tampa Bay.