ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller will be suspended without pay for the first six games of the season.
The six game ban is the result of negotiations between the NFL, Miller's lawyers and the NFL Players Association after the league found Miller in violation of the league's substance abuse program this offseason, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules.
There will be no further appeal, and Miller will begin serving his suspension after the Broncos' final preseason game.
Miller could have been suspended for as long as the full year. Instead, Miller will miss games against the Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars. He will be allowed to return to the team before its Week 7 game at Indianapolis.
The suspension was trigged this summer after Miller, who was placed in the NFL's drug program after a positive test for marijuana in his rookie year in 2011, spilled a urine sample during a scheduled test at the Broncos' facility before an offseason workout. The urine sample Miller provided after the practice was found to be diluted, the person said.
In dispute was whether this should count as a third or second violation of the league's drug policy. A second violation would result in a four-game suspension, while a third offense would trigger the year-long suspension.
Miller, who finished second in defensive MVP voting last season, was informed of the results of the negotiations about an hour after practice ended Tuesday afternoon.
Miller released a statement through the Broncos:
"The Substances of Abuse policy requires everyone to comply with the rules. Although my suspension doesn't result from a positive test, there is no excuse for my violations of the rules. I made mistakes and my suspension has hurt my team, Broncos fans, and myself. I am especially sorry for the effect of my bad decisions on others. I will not make the same mistakes about adhering to the policy in the future. During my time off the field, I will work tirelessly and focus exclusively on remaining in peak shape. I look forward to contributing immediately upon my return to the field and bringing a championship back to the people of Denver."
Losing Miller will be a major blow to a Broncos team that is considered the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Miller is the team's best defensive player, with 30 sacks in his first two seasons since he was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft.
The Broncos, despite knowing a suspension was possible, spent all of training camp acting like Miller would be in the lineup for the Sept. 5 season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. He took nearly all of the first-team reps at strong-side linebacker, and missed only one day of practice to deal with appeal-related meetings.
In that one missed practice last week, the Broncos showed what the defense might look like without him, with Nate Irving at strongside linebacker in the base defense, and Shaun Philips taking over Miller's pass-rushing role.
Miller, who was also arrested on Aug. 11 on an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on a traffic violation, said his daily football responsibilities have helped him focus while his appeal to the NFL was pending.
In his five-minute press conference after practice Tuesday, he said he grateful to have the support of his teammates, from quarterback Peyton Manning down the undrafted rookies on the Broncos' roster.
"Von is one of our teammates, he's part of our family, and I certainly have his back as his teammate," Manning said Tuesday, before learning the result of Miller's appeal. "I know that all the players do and the organization does. We'll get through this time. We support him 100%."