Earlier this week, I wrote about who can become the identity of the Denver Broncos on offense.
Now let's take a look at the defensive side of the ball.
Unlike the offense, there is no question whom "The Man" is on the Broncos defense. The buck starts and stops with linebacker Elvis Dumervil. Yes, Champ Bailey is one of the best corners of all-time, but he is now past his prime. Dumervil is just entering his.
Contract issues aside for a moment, Dumervil was without question the MVP of the Broncos defense in 2009. Finishing the season with 17 sacks and earning his first Pro Bowl selection, Dumervil transitioned seamlessly from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 linebacker--a transition that is not easy to make as former Packer and current Jaguar Aaron Kampman can tell you.
Broncos fans have held their breath during Dumervil's recent standoff with Broncos management. After having seen quarterback Jay Cutler traded last season and wide wide receiver Brandon Marshall traded this season, Broncos fans couldn't stomach to see yet another star leave the team for supposed greener pastures.
Two weeks ago, Broncomaniacs around the world exhaled. Dumervil signed his restricted free-agent tender and returns to the Mile High City for at least one more season.
The hemorrhaging of stars has stopped for this season, but could Dumervil be the big casualty of the next offseason?
He shouldn't be, but that doesn't mean coach Josh McDaniels may not try. McDaniels has made a lot of bold moves since taking over for Mike Shanahan, but letting Dumervil go wouldn't fit in that category, it would go be filed under the name "stupid."
Cutler and Marshall had well-earned reputations for being prima donnas and more than a fair share of Broncos fans were pleased to see them go. As could be seen last year, both had attitude problems and didn't fit into McDaniels' vision of "team first, me later" for the franchise.
Let him go and there could be riots at Invesco Field at Mile High. Dumervil has been a tireless worker, a great example to his teammates on and off the field. It seems Dumervil is the prototypical player that McDaniels has been talking about since he arrived last year.
By not signing Dumervil now to a long-term extension, the Broncos risk his price tag soaring should he continue to produce at the rate he has produced. If the Broncos are really concerned about the bottom line, locking Dumervil up now would be a lot more cost efficient than getting caught up in a bidding war with another team when Dumervil becomes an unrestricted free agent.
So what are McDaniels and management waiting for?
Perhaps they were waiting to see how he acted and how long it took for him to sign his RFA tender. Now that he has signed it, perhaps the Broncos and Dumervil are negotiating a long term deal but are keeping the discussions under tight security. With McDaniels learning from Bill Belichick, this is more than possible.
Another possibility is that the Broncos are waiting to see how Dumervil performs during this "lame duck" season and whether or not he wants to remain in Denver. This is all well and good, but is this the best way to deal with a player that has shown ZERO drama queen ability and even made a point saying he didn't want contract negotiations to play out in public?
If that's the case, the wrong message is being sent to the entire roster. The Broncos would be showing a "what have you done for us lately" mentality rather than "what you have done for us and what you WILL do for us" that most teams share.
McDaniels won three Super Bowl rings in New England, so one must believe there is some kind of method to this supposed madness.
If that's the case, then the Broncos will lock up Dumervil long-term in the very near future. If Dumervil walks, then the Broncos defense can be summed up in only one very ironic word.
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