Jussel: Dumervil’s departure doesn’t doom Denver
Elvis doesn’t mean squat.
I’ve heard Denver Broncos fans fretting for weeks about what was going on, then the eventual going on of Elvis Dumervil to the Baltimore Ravens.
Although they certainly won’t admit it, there is logic to the Broncos allowing Dumervil to take his hike.
March was the month National Football League teams went about the business of fitting round pegs into square holes, signing free agents who, for the most part, weren’t wanted by their former employers.
The Broncos Decider of All Things Important, John Elway, once again made the rest of the league look silly in the early stages of free agency, signing four, perhaps five starters who will improve what many (you and me included) thought was the best team in the league in 2012.
Then, along came Faxgate, eventually ending in Dumervil signing a five-year deal with the Ravens.
“Oh no!” Elvis fans cried. “We’re doomed!”
I’m thinking Elway and his staff aren’t all that broken up about Elvis taking his act elsewhere.
The Broncos are better off without having to pay him $8 million-plus next season despite having more than $5 million count against the salary cap because of his release.
They have, by my rather simplistic count, Dumervil’s $8 million to play with to sign a replacement pass rusher if deemed necessary (John Abraham or Dwight Freeney) and perhaps another starter, maybe even the likes of legendary Chicago Bear middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Look at it another way:
Dumervil’s exit could allow the Broncos to re-sign defensive tackle Justin Bannan, middle linebacker Keith Brooking, center Dan Koppen, slot receiver Brandon Stokley — and sign Abraham or Freeney.
That’s a bunch of depth and experience, all for the price of one player who was borderline terrible against the run and being paid huge money for a sack roughly once every two games and a forced fumble once every three games.
Elway did his part to be politically correct with the departure of Dumervil, saying, “There’s always tough times when you have to deal with the business side of football, especially when business is mixed with people, people you like. … He’s had a nice career. We wish him the best.”
Doesn’t sound like mourning to me.
While the Broncos continue to go about their business, pleasant or not, Baltimore fans were all agog about Dumervil suddenly revitalizing a defense that had lost six starters from its Super Bowl title team.
Dumervil could have remained a Bronco and had his best chance of appearing in a Super Bowl. Instead, he will be on a team that also lost its best wide receiver, Anquan Boldin, and a starting tackle, Bryant McKinnie, to free agency.
And he won’t replace those defensive starters: Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed and Cary Williams. Not by a long shot.
Enjoy your down time in January and February next year, Elvis.
Bronco fans are aware that as long as Peyton Manning is standing in the pocket, their team is the favorite to win next year’s Super Bowl.
And that is the right call.
Elway & Co. have not had blinders on while going about the business of improving the team. They know where the weaknesses were, and they have addressed them on both sides of the ball.
The addition of guard Louis Vasquez will change the way they do business in the running game and help keep pressure off Manning in the middle.
Wes Welker in the slot will mean fewer catches for the other receivers, but it will make for more long drives for a team that averaged 30 points per game last season.
And Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a corner and Terrance Knighton in the middle of the line will make the defense better.
Translation: The Broncos are sitting on top of the mountain in what will be a still-awful AFC West, and they have moved ahead of Baltimore (as if they weren’t already), New England and Houston in the AFC.
The Broncos leapfrogged every team other than perhaps San Francisco and Seattle during the free-agency period, and they are on track to play one of them for the Super Bowl title — regardless of the Dumervil “fiasco” that perhaps wasn’t really a fiasco at all.
Rick Jussel is a former Daily Sentinel sports editor (think Dark Ages) and Grand Junction High School journalism teacher who belongs in the Armchair Quarterback Hall of Fame, if only there was one.