I promise I won’t say, “Elvis has left the building.”
After being drafted by Mike Shanahan in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft, the Elvis Dumervil era has officially come to an end in the Mile High City.
The Broncos and Dumervil had agreed upon a re-structured contract on Friday, March 15th, but the paperwork was not faxed into the Broncos’ front office in time, and instead of paying Dumervil $12M for the 2013 season, the Broncos protected themselves and cut him, saving about $8M in cap space, give or take.
The situation was blamed largely on Dumervil’s former agent, Marty Magid, who has since been fired and both parties hoped to reach a resolution on a new contract.
Dumervil has agreed to a five year contract with the Baltimore Ravens after making fans wait for what seemed like an eternity, but it had to have been a tough decision to make.
When all is said and done, the Broncos didn’t feel like they owed anything to Dumervil after the contract situation played out, but they would have liked to have kept him. Dumervil would have loved to have stayed in Denver, but there were some hurt feelings there after the team showed its willingness to simply cut him, I imagine.
After Dumervil saw that the Broncos’ front office was willing to cut him outright, I think he felt like he wanted to go to a team where he was wanted. The Broncos definitely wanted him, but not for $12M dollars. Personally, I think knowing that John Elway was willing to let Dumervil go was ultimately what convinced him to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.
Not only that, but John Harbaugh has to be a heck of a recruiter, along with Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens are rarely big players on the free agent market, but when they identify a target, it’s rare to see them miss. Harbaugh is one of the most likeable coaches in the NFL, and there’s no reason to think Dumervil didn’t come away from discussions with that team overly impressed with the way their organization is run. They probably made him feel like he could be a centerpiece of their rebuild, while in Denver he’d be second fiddle to Von Miller, one of the best up-and-coming pass rushers in the league.
In the end for Dumervil, it came down to disappointing an organization that made him feel wanted (Ravens), or disappointing a team that felt he was their best option, but replaceable (Broncos).
With Dumervil now out of the team’s plans, the Denver Broncos are now moving forward. Reports surfaced long before the whole Dumervil fiasco ensued that if he would not agree to a contract re-structure, the Broncos would look to veteran pass rush options on the free agent market. Quarterback Peyton Manning has aided in the recruitment of veteran sack artist Dwight Freeney, who will be 33 this season and is coming off of the worst year of his career.
I think Freeney is a great option for the Broncos in replacing Dumervil. Neither are very effective against the run, but I think Freeney’s off year last year was a case of poor scheme fit. He is not a 3-4 OLB and never has been. He will be a great addition to the Broncos’ defense if/when he joins the team.
The team’s other option is 35 year old John Abraham, who has been the topic of many Broncos offseason rumors. Abraham was nearly acquired by the Broncos in a trade a few years back, and his name has been connected to the team on other occasions.
I don’t know what the team’s direction is as far as signing one or both players, but you’d have to think they’d consider bringing both guys in with their $8M in cap space. Neither player will be overly expensive due to their age, and even at their age, they can be strong contributors to the Denver defense.
Even with one of Freeney or Abraham in the fold, the Broncos will still have to look to pass rushers in the draft this year and likely next.
Second year player Derek Wolfe is returning as a starter at LDE, but at what point will the Broncos consider moving him inside to tackle? Is that even a possibility at this point? With Von Miller coming typically off the same edge as Wolfe, the Broncos may be well-served to keep them together as a pair.
Robert Ayers, one of the team’s first round picks from 2009 will play a much larger role this year as well. Ayers was drafted based on his potential, and he has not yet lived up to it. The Broncos saw glimpses of what Ayers can do last season, but at this point he hasn’t proven to be anything more than a solid rotational player.
As of the time of this posting, the Broncos don’t have anyone on the defensive line who is a threat to the quarterback like Dumervil was. Other young options on the team include 2012 seventh round pick Jeremy Beal, as well as fifth round pick Malik Jackson. Both Beal and Jackson are more power players than speed players like Dumervil.
If you add Freeney and/or Abraham to the fold, it will buy the Broncos some time in terms of their draft strategy. This year offers a ton of potential in terms of pass rushers, but a lot of question marks as well. The Broncos have done some sniffing around hybrid guys like Sio Moore of Connecticut as well, a guy who could rush the QB with his hand in the dirt if asked.
An interesting name on the Broncos’ radar could be Ohio State DE John Simon, whom they have spoken to this offseason. Simon is a high effort player who can get pressure on the quarterback in his own unique way. I’m very intrigued by him, personally.
As we discussed on the site earlier Sunday, it’s been reported that the Broncos are in the market for big defensive backs, and quite possibly with their first round pick. In the first round, the Broncos likely will consider any option that falls their way, including guys like Alex Okafor (Texas), Datone Jones (UCLA), Damontre Moore (Texas A&M), Cornellius “Tank” Carradine (Florida State), and Sam Montgomery (LSU).
There are sure to be plenty of pass rush options out there for the Broncos this offseason, but they might have to get creative.