Bills linebacker Von Miller put pen to paper on a six-year deal on Thursday. It was a big day for Buffalo, but it might have been an even bigger day for Miller.
The two-time Super Bowl champion chose to leave a team he had grown to love because he wanted to be a part of something special.
"This last 24 hours has been exciting, and it's been tough," Miller said. "I loved being on the Los Angeles Rams. I loved being there with all the guys. I created so many friendships and created so many brotherhoods in that short period of time that it was really hard to let that go."
We don't always get to see players pull back the curtain and explain what's going on in their mind as they make a decision that will impact the rest of their life.
Miller was very candid during his introductory press conference and explained just how difficult it was to leave Los Angeles. After explaining how thankful he was for his time with Aaron Donald and the Rams, Miller shared why he can't wait for this next chapter in Buffalo.
"I'm excited to go win," Miller said with a smile. "I'm excited to go win a Super Bowl in this city. I'm excited to see Bills Mafia go crazy. I'm excited for all the things that this special place brings."
Miller said he feels privileged to be a part of what Buffalo has cooking. One of the reasons Western New York has become an attractive place to play is due to how Bills general manager Brandon Beane has crafted the roster since 2017. With so much talent, Beane has had to master the art of a great contract. A six-year deal can't be easy to put together, but Beane made it happen.
Many thought the Bills would move quietly through free agency and not spend too much due to the salary cap number. Instead, Beane laid down the hammer and did what was needed to bring a pass rusher that's hard to find to Buffalo.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott thought a move like this was important because of what the team was missing last season.
"You look at the last few games of the season every year," McDermott said. "That, to me, is a barometer of where you're at and where you need to go. We just felt like we needed this piece. It was one of the pieces that we needed, not the only piece.
"But this was an opportunity for us to get our hands on one in Von and it's not every year you have a chance to get a player like this at that position in particular. So we were fortunate that the time was right for us and for him."
Buffalo has its eye on making it to the Super Bowl. They were 13 seconds away from making it to the AFC Championship game last season and believe Miller could be one of the pieces that helps them get there. We've heard Beane and McDermott say multiple times, you need an elite pass rusher in the AFC because of the talented quarterbacks in the conference.
Miller has that elite trait. The 11-year veteran has 115.5 career sacks, which is the most by any player since 2011. He has seven seasons with double-digit sack numbers and put up a career-high 18.5 sacks in 2012. The impact he has had on the game and the level that he has played at will be huge for the younger players in the defensive line room.
"You're talking about a guy that's won two Super Bowls," McDermott said. "That's unique in and of itself around the league. The way he's played at such a high level over the years and how he does things. We have a young defensive end group for the most part. Those three players in particular, A.J. (Epenesa), Boogie (Basham) and Greg (Rousseau), I'm sure will just soak up everything that he has to offer."
"I will lean on my experience from going to the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Rams to kind of guide me through this process," Miller shared. "I like to believe that success leaves clues, and I've been around some great players from Peyton Manning to Matthew Stafford to DeMarcus Ware to Aaron Donald. I'm going to lean on my experiences with all of those guys to try to get us over the hump here."
Miller knows he won't be able to push Buffalo to new heights on his own. The Texas A&M product wants to be a part of a defensive line that can get after the quarterback, and he believes he has just that.
"I wouldn't have come here if I didn't have rushing buddies," Miller said. "If it was just going to be me rushing after the passer, this wouldn't have been a great fit for me, but we rush here. There's a lot of guys here that can get after the passer. I've been a fan of these young guys from Greg (Rousseau) to A.J. (Epenesa) to Ed Oliver."
Another factor that drew Miller to Buffalo was No. 17 on offense.
"Josh Allen came here and became a creature," Miller said of Allen's growth in Buffalo. "He became a superstar quarterback, and he's one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to be a part of this. I believe in him. I believe in this offense."
Miller also believes in the culture at One Bills Drive. He spoke as if he had been a part of the locker room for years with how certain he was about it. Miller felt so confident in the culture because he did his homework. He said he contacted as many people as he could before signing, including wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
"To be honest I talked to him about this locker room since he got here," Miller shared. "I asked him about it. He said he loved it. He said he loved everything about Buffalo. For Stefon Diggs, Mr. International, for him to give me those kudos, it really made me feel at peace with coming here and being a part of this."
Von Miller, Tim Settle, Jordan Phillips and OJ Howard + others arrive in Buffalo to sign their contracts.
Miller said a locker room like Buffalo's is one of the few things that could pull him away from the sunshine in Los Angeles.
"L.A. to Buffalo…it says a lot about the type of things they're doing inside the facility," Miller said.
He's right. The Bills have become a destination that's desired by many in the NFL. It's because of the path they're on, the tight-knit locker room and Josh Allen.
It's an exciting time to be in Buffalo, and that's why Miller couldn't say no to this opportunity.
"What pass rusher would walk away from a tandem with me, Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd," Miller wondered. "Like who does that? I don't care if we didn't have anybody else behind us. As long as it was me, AD (Aaron Donald) and Leonard Floyd, I felt like we could have got things done. It had to be something special. It had to be the Buffalo Bills to really get me over the hump.
"And right when I signed on the contract, I felt good. The smile came back. The happiness came back. Von came back."
That smile was present as the eight-time Pro Bowler finished up his press conference and posed with a number 40 jersey. Now that he's in Buffalo, Miller might even dig out some of his old Bills gear that he bought in 2011 when he thought he would be drafted by the Bills. Instead, Denver swooped in one pick before Buffalo and chose Miller.
The All-Pro felt like he was destined to be a Bill in 2011. It only took 11 years to say that he's officially a Buffalo Bill.