Demervil still awaiting contract

The Broncos have one remaining unsigned restricted free agent: outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil.

Any talk of a long-term extension for Dumervil, the NFL's leader in sacks last year, has been publicly quiet. Dumervil would like to be rewarded with a lucrative contract, but the Broncos are wary about making any big move given the labor uncertainty surrounding the league.

"That's a frustrating situation for all of us," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said. "We're looking at a place right now in the league where there's some uncertainty for us going forward. I think that's holding up some things with a lot of teams and with a lot of organizations."

Other teams have found a way to reward their stars, despite labor issues, which might include a work stoppage in 2011. San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, New Orleans guard Jahri Evans and Houston linebacker DeMeco Ryans have all received large contract extensions. Ryans and Evans were restricted free agents, and Evans was a 2006 fourth-round pick -- just like Dumervil.

The Broncos risk raising questions in their own locker room if Dumervil isn't rewarded with an extension. In two offseasons, McDaniels has traded malcontents to other teams.

Last year, quarterback Jay Cutler was upset after he was discussed in trade talks, and eventually was traded to Chicago. He received a large contract extension. Receiver Brandon Marshall acted unprofessionally for most of last year, but got traded to Miami where he was rewarded with a $50 million extension. Tight end Tony Scheffler was also traded out of town after letting his dissatisfaction be known.

Then there's Dumervil, who has nothing but a free-agent tender worth a little more than $3 million. He was asked to change positions in a contract year last season, moving from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Broncos' 3-4 defense. He made that transition without complaint, worked hard and became a Pro Bowler at a new position.

McDaniels has said that Dumervil is a huge part of the Broncos' plans and many people in the organization have a lot of respect for him. That indicates that, at some point, the Broncos will secure Dumervil to a long-term deal.

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