It appears as if Elvis Dumervil’s time in Denver is all but over. The Broncos intend to cut Dumervil if he does not restructure his contract, and Dumervil, who is scheduled to make $12 million next season, has no intention of doing that, which will leave the Broncos no choice but to let him go. It’s not necessarily the move the Broncos want to make, as Dumervil has been an integral part of their defense over the past several years, but it’s a move they have to make moving forward, especially if they’re able to land former Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney as his replacement, a move that’s been widely speculated in the wake of Dumervil’s impending release.
Regardless of who ends up replacing Dumervil in Denver’s lineup, it will be a sad day in Denver to see him leave. The undersized defensive end has given the Broncos six outstanding seasons since the team drafted him out of Louisville in 2006. Including the playoffs, Dumervil has contributed 65 sacks and forced 17 fumbles during his career with the Broncos. He has made three Pro-Bowls, been named to the All-Pro team once, and become one of the top pass rushers in the NFL during his time in Denver. But even after all that, it’s time for him and the Broncos to move on from one another.
With the addition of Von Miller in the 2011, Dumervil is no longer the top pass rusher on Denver’s roster. He is still one of the best around, but $12 million is too much to pay a player that is merely the second best pass-rusher on a team; and so if he’s unwilling to restructure, the Broncos have to let him go. As lethal of a duo as Dumervil and Miller have been over these past two seasons, and as dangerous as they made the Broncos defense, the Broncos can’t afford Dumervil’s price any longer, not when Miller has emerged as one of the league’s top defensive players.
If the Broncos are able to haul in Freeney at a cheaper price following Dumervil’s release, it could be considered an equal exchange of players. Freeney is a slightly older and more experienced version of Dumervil, who tried emulated Freeney as a player growing up and actually broke Freeney’s Big East record for sacks in a single game while in college. Although Freeney is past his prime and may not be as productive as Dumervil, he still has plenty left in the tank, and if he were to play on the same defense as Miller, he would get plenty of favorable matchups and plenty of opportunities to exceed the five sacks he had last year. Moreover, after being let go by the Colts, Freeney has a lot to prove and a lot of motivation, as he tries to keep his career going. If Freeney were to come to Denver, it would be a great opportunity to for him to chase after a second Super Bowl win, as both he and the Broncos have a small window in which to make a serious run at a championship.
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As sad as it may be for the Broncos and their fans to say goodbye to Dumervil after six years of outstanding service, it’s a move that has to be made. If releasing Dumervil opens the door for Freeney to come to Denver, then the move will be much easier to swallow. Freeney and the Broncos make a great match for one another, and an exchange of Dumervil for Freeney would seem to make things equal in the end. So if Dumervil ends up getting released and Freeney ends up getting signed, it shouldn’t affect the Broncos chances in 2013 one bit.