With all the wild trades around the NFL of late, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the Buffalo Bills made one of the biggest splashes in free agency. The defending AFC Easy champs signed eight-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro, and two-time Super Bowl winner Von Miller to a six-year, $120 million deal with $51.4 million guaranteed.
Even at 33 (as of March 26), the former Denver Bronco and Los Angeles Ram is one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL. His midseason trade to the Rams upgraded their defense and was a major reason the team won Super Bowl 56.
When the sought-after sack master chose Buffalo over signing back with LA, returning to Denver, or heading to basically any other glamorous NFL locale he wanted to, most assumed it was because of the massive contract.
However, ESPN reporter Jeremy Fowler recently revealed four main reasons Miller signed with Buffalo, and none of the four were the $120 million contract.
Reason No. 1: Von Miller feels he could be the missing link
NFL reporter Jeremy Fowler recently compiled the free agency “buzz” from all 32 NFL teams on ESPN.com. In the Buffalo Bills section, he wrote about the courtship of Von Miller and the reasons the superstar surprisingly chose Buffalo, which isn’t known as a premier free-agent destination.
The first reason, Fowler writes, is:
Buffalo managed to produce a top-ranked defense despite one missing ingredient: a dominant rusher off the edge. That was intriguing.Jeremy Folwer on Von Miller
In reality, “top-ranked defense” is somewhat of an understatement. The Bills D was the No. 1 scoring D in the NFL, allowing just 289 points all season. The group was also first in yards allowed (4,637) and third in turnovers (30).
The one area the Bills could improve in is sacks. The defense’s 42 sacks tied for 11th in the league. Thirty-four-year-old Mario Addison led the team with 7.0 sacks, and rookie first-round pick Gregory Rousseau was second with 4.0.
Miller has bested that combined sack total of 11 seven times in his ten-year NFL career.
Reason No. 2: Two words, Josh Allen
Joining a top-ranked defense without high-end pass rushers is smart for Von Miller. The second reason he like the Buffalo Bills is even smarter. Fowler wrote:
Also, the fact quarterback Josh Allen is 25 years old and under contract for the next seven years in Buffalo was appealing. Remember, Miller signed a contract extension in Denver as Peyton Manning was on his way out. Miller never got back to the playoffs until the Rams traded for him. That wore on him.Jeremy Folwer on Von Miller
Miller’s been around the NFL block enough to understand what most longtime fans know: 99% of pro football teams are only as good as their starting QB. And the Bills have a heck of a starting QB.
Since the Bills drafted Allen No. 7 in 2018, the former Wyoming Cowboy went from a raw, athletic, big-armed prospect to possibly the most all-around dangerous signal-caller in the NFL.
In 2021, Allen finished eighth in the league in passing yards (4,407), seventh in TD passes (36), and first in making defenders scream, “Oh my God, there’s a 6-foot-5, 240-pound Mack Truck about to run me over!”
Reason No. 3: The Buffalo Bills made Miller feel wanted
Von Miller also had off-the-field reasons for heading to Buffalo as well. Fowler reported:
Plus, the Bills really wanted this to happen and weren’t going to lose out on him again. Miller got the impression during the process that the Bills had tried to trade for him in the past, possibly during last year’s trade deadline as the Rams acquired him. When Miller became a free agent, Buffalo quietly applied a full-court press, knowing Los Angeles would be aggressive in trying to re-sign him.Jeremy Folwer on Von Miller
It’s nice to feel wanted, and the Buffalo Bills brain trust obviously made Miller feel that way. And that’s no surprise. The franchise hasn’t gone from perennial AFC East doormat to Super Bowl contender by accident.
General manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott have done an excellent job since leaving the Carolina Panthers to take over in Orchard Park in 2017. They’ve signed the right free agents, drafted the right prospects, and called the right plays on and off the field at an impressively high rate.
Time will tell if the Miller deal works out, but Beane and McDermott get an A+ in the recruitment.
Reason No. 4: Two more words, Bills Mafia
There is one last reason that Von Miller chose the Buffalo Bills, and, as Fowler notes, it is one of the things that sets the Bills franchise apart from any other organization in the NFL:
Bills fans are intense, which Miller loved, with the pageantry reminding him of College Station from his Texas A&M days.Jeremy Folwer on Von Miller
It started as a Twitter hashtag in the early days of the social media platform in 2010 and developed into a movement. And now, the Bills have the most recognizable fan base in the NFL.
They jump through tables, they donate to charities, and they throw unspeakable things near New England Patriots players in the end zone. For better or worse, the Bills Mafia has become the modern-day version of the Black Hole or the Dog Pound, except it’s the entire stadium.
And now, they’ve helped their beloved Bills pull off one of the free-agent signings of the 2022 offseason.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference