The Denver Broncos pulled off a bit of a shock on Monday when they traded longtime linebacker Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams for second- and third-round picks. The Broncos are currently 4-4 after a 3-0 start to the season; while that's an unpleasant slump, the team is still in a position to use a player of his caliber. As a visibly emotional Miller left the team facility, he said he was surprised to have been traded.
A Nov. 1 report from Pro Football Network's Adam Beasley, who used to cover the Dolphins for the Miami Herald, suggested the trade might have been influenced by a locker-room conflict over Miller's teammates not paying him back for a lavish Halloween party he hosted. Miller has been a big Halloween guy for years; he's regularly thrown all-out parties with his teammates. The Halloween 2018 edition, which was incorrectly pilloried as a cocaine-themed party by a local radio dolt, nonetheless resulted in backup QB Chad Kelly getting arrested in costume for wandering into a stranger's home. Rapper Quavo performed at this year's edition, which was a "six-figure" affair, according to Beasley. It seemed like a good time.
Beasley had carefully couched his language: The dispute "threatened to disrupt the Broncos’ locker room chemistry" and the discord "may have" contributed to the trade. Miller reportedly wanted rookies to chip in, even though they weren't part of the planning process. The tradition might have worn thin with new players over time: Before the trade, Miller was one of two Broncos left from the Super Bowl 50 championship roster. Kicker Brandon McManus is now the only remaining member.
When Broncos tight end Noah Fant stopped by Stokley and Zach on local station 104.3 The Fan on Tuesday for his usual radio appearance, he was asked about the Miller trade and confirmed parts of Beasley's reporting. There seemed to be some disagreements over the Halloween party, but they went beyond picking up Quavo's tab.
Fant didn't go into specifics, but here's the meat of his explanation:
It was a situation where we were planning on having this Halloween party. That was the thing, and then, we had dropped a couple games. Von had contacted everybody in the group chat saying, "Hey, I’m thinking about canceling the party. We got to focus on winning games." That was his biggest thing, being improvement-driven, focus on winning games and things like that. So he did try to cancel it; guys still wanted to have it. And then it kind of went south from there.
I’m not gonna go into details. They ended up having the party. I did not attend, but I had a conversation with Von afterwards. And I still paid, just because if I knew I wasn’t going to go, I should have spoken up and said something. I try to hold to my morals and values. But to each guy his own. Every guy has different thoughts about that. But I would say that the fact that that kind of got out into the media is kind of sad to hear, that it got out of our locker room, especially, you know, talking to him, it was—we all look at ourselves as like a group of brothers and things like that. You're going to fight with your brothers sometimes, you're going to get into disagreements, but this should never leave the locker room or leave the team setting.
Fant's hints about how things "went south" and teammates had "different thoughts about that" would seem to confirm that some Broncos players were mad about the handling of the Halloween party bill. However, neither Fant nor Beasley linked that discontent with the trade itself, and Troy Renck of Denver7 News reported that the two were just a coincidence:
That's easy to believe, considering Miller's contract situation and the picks received. It's also pretty easy to believe that the Broncos' trade solved a minor locker-room issue as a separate bonus.