We are in the midst of the offseason and most of the talk going on right now is about a new labor agreement, the NFL Scouting combine and NFL draft prospects in general. You’ve come to the right place because at XtraPointFootball.com, we have you well covered with of that.
What I want to talk about here has to do with what could happen to some of the better teams after a new CBA is put into place. There are several players and team combinations that this may have huge implications for, if/when they are forged together. But, for these things to come to pass, it has to make sense for all parties involved. I don't believe there is a better "match made in heaven" then a straight up trade that would send Defensive End, Mario Williams of the Houston Texans to the Denver Broncos for DE/OLB Elvis Dumervil.
These two superstars continue to have their paths cross throughout their professional careers. Mario Williams was the 1st overall selection in the 2006 NFL draft, a draft that was drama filled, mostly by the Houston Texans selecting Williams over National Champion and local standout, Vince Young and the can't miss, do everything, Heisman running back, Reggie Bush. The reason behind Houston selecting Mario was that he would be able to get constant pressure on Peyton Manning, a divisional foe. The Texans had hoped that Williams would be able to get Houston over the top by being able to force Peyton into bad decisions. With the Texans now moving to a 3-4 defensive scheme, and Mario switching to the DE position in this scheme, this in my mind will undoubtedly lessen the value of the former top pick.
Meanwhile, the organization that basically employed the entire Texans coaching staff and General Manager at one point or another, is also switching defensive schemes. The Denver Broncos are switching back to the 4-3 scheme after 2 years of having been in a 3-4. Dumervil, who received much less attention coming out of college, has put up the numbers to mirror Mario’s. None more so, than his first year in the 3-4 scheme as an Outside Linebacker free to rush the QB. That 2009 season led Elvis to being the NFL sack leader with 17 sacks. Dumervil missed all of 2010 with a torn pectoral muscle, and this could cause some concern for any possible trade partners, but he’s reportedly on schedule to return 100 percent. Elvis also flourished in the 4-3 scheme, recording 12.5 sacks in 2007 but his last year as a 4-3 defensive end, back in 2008, he only recorded 5 sacks. Most likely this is due to the fact that he has a much smaller than average frame (5'11 248 lbs) for a 4-3 end, having to do constant battle in the trenches and eventually wearing down.
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If the two teams pull the trigger on this trade, in my eyes both cities, teams and fan bases win. Both are outstanding, superstar caliber praises that benefit from the other's system. John Fox, the new coach of the Broncos, could hope to mold Mario into his new Julius Peppers who he benefited from having in Carolina. Mario is a playmaker but his downfalls entail being to one dimensional, he relies on the speed rush far too often and doesn't add to his repertoire. Also, he's also too hot or cold, meaning that he's streaky. Williams has games that he's unstoppable and records 3 sacks and the next week, plays like a backup in the CFL. Williams also seems to be often injured but to his credit, he fights through and plays regardless, without excuse or complaint.
Gary Kubiak has to turn around of the worst defenses in the NFL as the Texans had one of the worst pass defenses last year and they brought in Wade Phillips to install his 3-4 scheme in hopes of turning it around. The secondary was brutally awful for the Texans. It is harder to improve the whole secondary than it is to just get one of the best pass rushers that will fit the new scheme. In summary less time for the QB, means less time for the secondary to get burnt.
Mario is the better tackler and plays the run more effectively than Elvis. Williams is able to absorb anything that comes within arm reach of his vicinity. He's also a physical freak, standing 6-7 and 295 pounds, with what appears as almost zero body fat. Williams just needs to be motivated and pushed. A change of scenery and being under John Fox could be the catapult to shoot him towards the next level in his career.
Elvis is a superior sack specialist. Although he has been effective in the 4-3, it's obvious that he is built and was made to play OLB in the 3-4. While Elvis has had some ups and downs with his sack totals, Mario’s have been on a steady decline. Mario's sack totals over the last 4 years look like this, 2007 - 14, 2008 - 12, 2009 - 9, and 2010 - 8.5. The stats for these to defensive players are roughly in the same ball park with Mario having 230 tackles and 48 sacks in his career and Elvis having 129 tackles and 43 sacks (Elvis missed 1 full season).
My main point is that these two teams are paying these players premium money, so you they have to get the most value out of them. The Texans aren't getting the value back from Mario's rookie deal of 6 years, $54 million, with $26.5 guaranteed, by playing him at 3-4 DE and he's also about to command a huge, new contract. Should the Texans risk experimenting with Mario Williams in the 3-4? If so and he fails, then his value drops off and there would be no reason to resign him. Ultimately the Texans risk losing a pro-bowler and getting nothing in return.
Dumervil just received a 6 year, $61.5 million deal with $43 mil guaranteed. Should the Broncos pay him that type of money for another 5 sack season? He's a premier 3-4 OLB, and that's why he received that contract...to be an OLB in the 3-4, not a 5'11 248 pound defensive end. It's rare to have a trade option come up where it's a straight up player for player. This is win-win. These two teams need to get this done or keep enjoying drafting in the top of the rounds each year.
If Elvis Dumervil does get traded, the first reporter that says "Elvis has left the building" should be immediately fired and thrown out the window of their office.
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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