ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The smile didn't return to Von Miller's face until the contract was signed and his decision became reality. That was when Von Miller felt like Von Miller again.
Miller chose to join his third team in his professional career, signing a six-year, $120 million contract with the Buffalo Bills on Thursday. The deal includes $51 million fully guaranteed.
Despite the substantial deal for the eight-time Pro Bowler, the decision to come to Buffalo was not an easy one, he said. The 32-year-old heavily considered returning to the Super Bowl LVI champion Los Angeles Rams, the team that acquired him from the Denver Broncos to bolster its title run.
"I saw what makes Aaron Donald Aaron Donald, and it was hard to walk away from that," Miller said. "The only way you can walk away from that is to walk into something special. And what they're doing here is extremely special. (The Bills are) gonna win a Super Bowl with or without me. They've built an amazing team."
With the decision of where to go all up to him this time around, Miller did contemplate a return to the Broncos. The stress came from the decision-making process being much more difficult than he originally thought.
"I wasn't expecting it to be like that," Miller said. "I was expecting you win the Super Bowl, you got your offers out here, where do you want to go, pick, go back to the Rams. But it was tough man, it came down to the very end."
He compared the process to something quite relatable.
"... I feel like I let (the Rams) down," Miller said. "I feel like I'm breaking up with my girlfriend. That's just me and the way I go about my business. But this was the one time in my life where I had to make a decision for me."
The Super Bowl 50 MVP credited numerous Rams players and members of coaching and front office staff for his time in Los Angeles and for making his decision that much more difficult. The future Pro Football Hall of Famer was traded away from the franchise that he spent all his career with and found that being with the Rams "rejuvenated" and "refreshed" him.
Playing alongside Donald and the rest of the Rams defense, Miller had a dominating postseason. He finished the team's four playoff games with four sacks and 18 pressures -- tied for the most in the postseason with Donald -- and held quarterbacks to a 0.7 total QBR on those plays.
Staying a Ram for the long term was the original plan, but Miller said after taking his time to make the decision and talking to everyone he could, it was coming to the Bills specifically that was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"When I left Denver and I went to LA, I said I'm not going back. I said I'm not leaving," Miller said. "And it had to be something special. It had to be the Buffalo Bills. What they've created here -- it had to be the Bills Mafia. This environment that they've created here, it drawed me away from that. It's not gonna be the weather. The weather is gonna be the weather. But what they're doing inside this facility, what they're doing in this community, what they're doing on the football field and off the football field, man, I had to be a part of that."
Miller shared that back in 2011 he thought that he would be drafted by the Bills with the third overall pick, even purchasing the team's gear, and learning about the fanbase, until the Broncos swooped in and decided to select him second overall.
Bills coach Sean McDermott said that getting Miller as a member of this defense was a chance to bring in a player that doesn't come around everyday and that the team's needs for this type of player became clear towards the end of the 2021 season.
"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," McDermott said. "So, we were fortunate that the time was right for us and for him."