John Elway is the face of the Denver Broncos’ offseason, their free agency decisions and their roster construction, but he’s not the brain; that’s salary cap guru Mike Sullivan, who, as Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson detailed today, has “emerged as a power broker in the roster-shaping process.”

According to Robinson, Sullivan is the one who has drawn the Broncos’ hardline stance in the sand. He’s the one who has “set the market” in negotiations with Brock Osweiler, Danny Trevathan, Malik Jackson and Colin Kaepernick, which means that he’s also the reason none of those players are currently on the Broncos’ roster.

When Sullivan determines someone’s worth, two things happen: (1) John Elway listens and (2) that number does not rise.

That has led to the Broncos “lowballing” nearly every player they’ve been in discussions with, including Von Miller, and it all started with Derek Wolfe.

Back in January, Wolfe and the Broncos agreed to a four-year, $36.7 million contract, which now looks to be well below market value. And according to Robinson’s sources, that “discount deal” has impacted the way the Broncos have done business this offseason.

“I think the Derek Wolfe deal screwed their heads up,” one agent said, via Yahoo Sports. “It made [Mike] Sullivan believe he could get everyone to do bad deals. There is a lot of arrogance there.”

And it’s not going well within the NFL agent community.

“[He] tries to make everyone eat a [expletive] sandwich,” another prominent NFL agent said. “And we have long memories.”

Sullivan and the Broncos have currently set Miller’s value at a reported $18 million, which is $4 million short of the believed $22 million he is asking for, and they can do that because they have all the leverage. While Miller would undoubtedly get significantly more than $18 million on the open market, he’s not on the open market, and the Broncos don’t expect to treat him as if he is.

They feel that $18 million is a fair number, and, more importantly, there’s no incentive to offer him any more, unless … the Broncos’ negotiating tactics continue to anger the NFL agent community. In that case, the extra $4 million they’d end up paying Miller each year could be a lot less expensive than the eventual long-term costs of having every marquee NFL agent and player hesitant to do business with you.

While both sides have said that they expect discussions to be peaceful, there’s little chance that they won’t extend well into the offseason, through minicamp, some of training camp and up to the July 15 deadline.