ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — John Elway never thought he'd be this happy to see No. 58 bearing down on him.
The Hall of Fame quarterback and Denver Broncos' new chief of football operations greeted linebacker Von Miller with a hearty handshake Thursday night after the former Texas A&M star who reminds so many of the late Derrick Thomas finished his first pro practice, a no-pads, no-helmet walkthrough.
"It's nice to have a great 58 on our team rather than seeing it on the other team," Elway said. "When he got drafted he said, 'You know what, I'm going to take No. 58.' And I said, 'That fits you pretty well.'"
Miller was the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft in April behind Auburn's Cam Newton, who went to the Carolina Panthers, and his deal was the first dramatic example of how the new labor deal's rookie salary system will affect elite players.
Miller signed a fully guaranteed deal worth more than $21 million over four years.
That's about half of what he could have gotten under the old labor pact: the No. 2 pick in 2010, Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, signed a five-year deal worth $40 million guaranteed and as much as $68 million overall.
But that's not why Elway was smiling.
"He reminds me of Derrick," Elway said of the Kansas City Chiefs star pass-rusher who tormented him during their respective Hall of Fame careers. "Hopefully, he has that kind of career, too. He's got the talent to do it."
Miller is focused on football, not finances, and said he's not worried about the millions he's missing out on.
"No, I look at it: I'm 22 years old. I've got a million dollars for every year I've been here," Miller told The Associated Press. "So, if I can keep that up, I'll be 45 with $45 million, 60 with $60 million."
He'll probably reach those figures much, much sooner if his career pans out.
"This just starts me working on my next contract and I just want to be that player that everybody else wants me to be and everything will play out," Miller said. "You can't really be possessive. I didn't have any money before I signed it. You know, I'm good."
Unlike most high draft picks, Miller isn't thinking about taking care of his parents — he doesn't have to.
"You know, my dad's making more than I make right now," said Miller, whose father is a CEO of a Dallas-based company that provides emergency backup systems. "I'm fortunate to come from a family where there's not a lot that I (wanted for). All I focused on was playing football."
Miller is the highest draft pick in team history. He returned to school for his senior season after leading the nation with 17 sacks as a junior in 2009 and honed his pass-rushing skills while raising his draft stock.
The Broncos have signed eight of their nine draft picks but were still negotiating Thursday night with the agent for third-rounder Nate Irving, a linebacker from North Carolina State.
Miller signed after missing new coach John Fox's first practice of training camp and said he was eager to put the pads on and get after it this weekend.
"The last time I hit somebody was Jan. 7, Cotton Bowl," Miller said. "I'm anxious to knock the cobwebs off and get out there."
Reach Arnie Stapleton at http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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