ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Von Miller might have a new pass-rushing partner by week’s end.
Free agents Dwight Freeney and John Abraham are set to visit Denver on Thursday, 48 hours after the Broncos submitted a new contract proposal to Elvis Dumervil.
Freeney, 33, and Abraham, 34, are both older and less productive than Dumervil, 29, but might make better financial sense for the Broncos, who had to cut Dumervil last week to avoid paying him $12 million in 2013. Dumervil’s then-agent Marty Magid and the Broncos renegotiated a three-year, $30 million deal Friday afternoon that included an $8 million salary for next season, but the paperwork didn’t get submitted on time. Without a signed contract in hand, the Broncos cut Dumervil and took a nearly $5 million salary cap hit for 2013. That factored into the new offer that front office chief John Elway said the Broncos submitted this week to Dumervil and his new agent, Tom Condon, who also represents Freeney.
Coach John Fox said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix this week that the Broncos were still hoping to re-sign Dumervil but also had alternates in mind.
“He’s a guy we obviously like,” Fox said. “He’s played good football for us. He’s a defensive captain and we like him as a player. It’s just unfortunate and we’ve been through the timeline. It’s just unfortunate things happen. But we kind of regrouped and we’ve got different options now and we’ve looked at those options and he’s one of them.”
Although Dumervil was often replaced on early downs last season, the Broncos weren’t eager to jettison him. But they thought his $12 million salary for next season was out of whack, so they asked him to take a cut in pay. Dumervil earned $14 million in each of the last two seasons, part of a six-year, $61.5 million deal he signed in 2010.
Dumervil is a popular teammate would be sorely missed if he doesn’t return to Denver.
“I concern myself with everything and the locker room’s a huge one because you’re dealing with players,” Fox said. “But I think our guys understand there’s two sides of football. … I don’t know if business is my favorite part or anybody else’s favorite part. But it’s a part of football and it usually occurs in the offseason. So, they understand that and I think guys separate that.”
Dumervil had 20½ sacks the last two seasons, making two trips to the Pro Bowl alongside Miller, the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2011 who had 18½ sacks last year, breaking the franchise record of 17 set by Dumervil in 2009.
Together they were dubbed “Doom & Gloom,” and were the most prolific pair of pass-rushers in the league over the last two years. Freeney, who played a decade with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, has 107½ career sacks in 11 seasons, all with the Colts.
Abraham has 122 sacks in 13 NFL season, six with the New York Jets and the last seven years with the Atlanta Falcons. Abraham has 19½ sacks over his last two seasons, Freeney 13½.
The Broncos have been one of the busiest teams in free agency, committing $65.5 million in upgrades so far.