March 27, 2013
DENVER — The Elvis Dumervil saga should go down as the most confounding contract conundrum of Broncos history.
Can you remember one more bizarre?
The fax didn't arrive on time.
So here are the facts, at this time.
After releasing Dumervil — and not thinking twice about it, which says plenty — the Broncos are in the market for a pass-rushing specialist.
Forget the fax and focus on the facts.
What does Dumervil’s exit mean to the future of the Broncos?
In 2012, Dumervil had 12 sacks. Between 2000-11, 34 teams lost a player who had eight or more sacks. On average, those teams had 40.7 sacks with him and 34.9 sacks the next year without him, according to Aaron Schatz, president of FootballOutsiders.com.
Without such a player, there usually was a drop-off.
The Broncos are smack in the middle of the abbreviated Peyton Manning era.
The Broncos don’t have time for a drop-off.
Denver is hunting a player who is comparable to Dumervil.
Of those 34 teams that lost a premier pass rusher, four replaced an eight-sack player with another eight-sack player. Two were Broncos teams.
Prior to the 2004 season, Bertrand Berry left for Arizona. His replacement was Ellis Johnson. The Broncos' sack numbers increased from 36 to 38.
Prior to the 2005 season, Reggie Hayward left for Jacksonville. His replacement was Ebenezer Ekuban. The Broncos' sack numbers decreased from 38 to 28.
So the Broncos have been down a road like this one before. Minus the fax, that’s a fact.
Judging from their actions with John Elway calling the shots, the Broncos are a solution-based operation. They focus on finding an answer, not whining about the problem.
The Broncos were last in the NFL in sacks in 2010. With their first pick in 2011, they drafted a sack man, Von Miller.
Tim Tebow was first in (some of) our hearts and first in one-hoppers. He wasn't the problem but wasn't the answer. The Broncos signed Peyton Manning.
If something isn’t right, these Broncos right it.
Dumervil’s departure leaves a void at defensive end. I expect the Broncos will fill it.
How much of a void is there to fill? I called on some advanced numbers specialists to evaluate Dumervil. Their opinions on Dumervil's value was mixed.
One analyst pointed out that only three of Dumervil’s 12 sacks came when the score was close (within 10 points, either way). Most of his damage was done when Manning had built a healthy lead and the pass rushers could attack with abandon.
"That being said ... he was a significant part of the Denver defense and somebody that they need to replace,” said Sam Monson, a senior analyst with ProFootballFocus.com.
Another analyst said there is a misconception Dumervil was weak against the run.
"This is mostly false," said Andy Benoit of FootballOutsiders.com. "The Broncos will miss him not just on third down but on first and second down."
While opinions differ on Dumervil, they provide the same result: Denver needs a new Dumervil.
There wasn't a fax, on time.
But those are the facts, at this time.
Paul Klee is the Denver sports columnist for The Gazette. He can be reached via email (email@example.com) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette).
Will Denver miss Dumervil? For an inside look at the top candidates to replace Elvis Dumervil, check out Paul Klee's blog on Gazette.com.