Broncos walking a dangerous line with Dumervil

When Josh McDaniels and his new coaching staff took over in Denver last year, one of the changes that they implemented was switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4. With that change, one of the things they did was ask defensive end Elvis Dumervil if he would switch positions and stand up as an outside linebacker.

Even though most players don’t like switching positions (why would they if they got to the NFL playing the position they’re most familiar with), Dumervil did so without complaint. He then proceeded to rack up a league-high 17 sacks in a career year.

Thanks to the un-capped year, Dumervil is a restricted free agent. The Broncos assigned a first and third round tender on the 26-year-old linebacker, but he has yet to sign it because he’s seeking a long-term deal. He’s also working out on his own in Florida instead of in Denver, as he waits for the Broncos to come through with a long-term offer.

But the team has been reluctant to offer him a long-term deal because they’re not sure if the league is heading for a lockout in 2011. They don’t want to pony up for a new contract without knowing whether or not there’s going to be a season next year, which certainly makes sense from their point of view.

That said, the Broncos need to prove that loyalty runs both ways. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall bitched their way out of Denver and have been ridiculed by fans because of it. But they also got paid, which is exactly what Dumervil wants. The Broncos have boasted about promoting a team-first attitude in light of the Cutler and Marshall situations, but if a long-term deal for Dumervil isn’t forthcoming, then they’re running a risk of alienating their players.

Dumervil has toed the company line his entire career. When they wanted him to change positions, he fell in line and did what was asked. If the Broncos want to continue to talk about having a team-first attitude, then Dumervil should be the poster child for their campaign. And how would it look if they continue to preach about loyalty and not backed it up themselves?

It’s time for them to pony up.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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