December 30, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil (92) during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos won 38-3. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Mile High Monday: Broncos Playing It Smart With Dumervil

It’s no secret that Elvis Dumervil is a fan-favorite in Broncos Country, and for good reason.

Drafted by Denver in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, Dumervil quickly became a force on the field. He started all 16 games in his second season and was named First Team All-Pro in 2009 when he registered 17.0 sacks. Outside of 2010 when he didn’t play a snap due to injury Dumervil has been a mainstay on the defensive side and has started nearly every game since 2007. With Von Miller playing on the opposite edge the Broncos have had an electric pass rush over the last two years. Elvis has put up 20.5 sacks over that time and has established himself as a pass-rushing specialist. That makes him an easy guy to cheer for on Sundays.

Free agency starts on Tuesday however, and the Broncos find themselves facing a difficult decision on Dumervil’s future. He parlayed his monster 2009 season into a massive six-year $61.5 million contract that will guarantee him $12 million during the upcoming season. That is a large chunk of money for a single player when considering the salary cap, especially for someone not playing quarterback. Denver has asked Dumervil to take a pay cut and/or restructure his contract so they have more flexibility to improve in free agency and the draft. Negotiations are ongoing, but the latest news from the Denver Post is that the two sides are at an impasse. This means the odds are increasing that Dumervil may have already played his last game in a Broncos uniform.

Some fans believe that this would be a disaster and Denver must do everything possible to keep Elvis in the fold. But I’m not one of them.

Sure I love Dumervil as much as anyone else, but his production simply doesn’t match the price tag. He’s put up some good sack numbers yet he hasn’t finished in the top ten in the league since 2009. So why should he be paid like one of those guys?

Dumervil is also a liability against the run and it’s not a surprise that he can be worn down. At 5′-11″ tall and 260 pounds he isn’t exactly going to impose his will on an offensive tackle.

The folks at Pro Football Focus have Dumervil rated as the #1 overvalued player on the entire Broncos roster. Their analysis showed that his 2012 Performance Based Value was $1.6 million, good for a differential from his cap number of about negative $14 million! Take it with a grain of salt if you want, but their numbers are hard to ignore.

Here is what PFF wrote regarding Dumervil:

This may seem odd, given that Dumervil got to the quarterback for (11) sacks but what else did he do and how quickly did those sacks come? His 60 combined sacks, hits and hurries isn’t a terrible return for a pass rusher, but when you get swallowed up as much in the run game as Dumervil and get flagged for eight penalties, are you really worth such a big cap hit?”

At the end of the day the Broncos can replace Dumervil’s production for less money; it’s as simple as that. Some of the free agent defensive ends available include John Abraham, Dwight Freeney, Cliff Avril, and Osi Umenyiora, among others. There is also a chance they will look to the draft for another pass rusher. Regardless of how they do it there will be ample opportunity to replace the void left by Elvis, and in the process they will have more money to add other pieces they need.

Even though the NFL is a tough business there is no need to feel bad for Dumervil. He was compensated nicely in 2010 when he didn’t play and he made $28 million over the last two seasons. He has been taken care of by the Broncos and then some. And if he does move on with a new franchise, they will probably overpay him as well.

It’s tough for fans to look past a name brand player like Elvis Dumervil and focus strictly on the numbers, but in this case it would show that parting ways with Dumervil might be the smart thing to do.

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Tags: Denver Broncos Dwight Freeney Elvis Dumervil John Abraham Von Miller

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