According to two sources, a diluted sample caused the most recent violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, but the case has complications that go far beyond that.
Thanks to those unusual circumstances, Miller's most recent misstep might be viewed as a second or third violation of the policy. The NFL could have positioned itself to levy an eight- or even a 16-game suspension in this case, but talks began before things got to that stage, once Miller learned, according to one source, that he was "in a little more trouble than expected." Miller was believed to have some leverage early on, due to a breach of confidentiality.
The question of whether this is a second or third violation is one of the central matters in the case.
The parties agreed to postpone the appeal hearing, initially scheduled for Aug. 15, in order to negotiate Miller's punishment. There have been settlement talks since, with a six-game suspension recently coming up as a possible solution. Miller's side, according to a second source, had been trying to negotiate the suspension down to four games, which was what the original penalty was expected to be.
The hope remains that the appeal hearing won't be necessary, and that the parties can hammer out an agreement. If there's no independent resolution, the appeal hearing would be the next step.