One elite restricted free agent down …


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While staredowns ensue in New England (Logan Mankins) and San Diego (Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill), at least one restricted free agent in the fourth-/fifth-year category has gotten something done.

As you may have heard last night, the Broncos have locked up star edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, giving the Pro Bowler what adds up to a five-year, $58.332 million contract extension off the one-year $3.168 million RFA tender he signed in June.

Now, where does this affect Mankins and Co.?

To simplify Dumervil’s deal, you can compare it to the one given to Jets LT D’Brickshaw Ferguson. Both got sweeteners in 2010 (Dumervil got some of that $3.168 million converted into a signing bonus, Ferguson got a $2.222 million raise), and there are differences in the deals (Dumervil’s guarantees that kick in down the line were guaranteed against skill AND injury, while Ferguson’s couldn’t be by rule).

But the bottom line is this: In both deals, the big payouts come in 2011, ’12 and further into the future. As a practical matter, those guys will get the money, almost no matter what. It’s just that, in both those cases, the clubs made it so that cash wouldn’t be paid out until after the labor situation was taken care.

The sides in each cases protected themselves, with such an uncertain future ahead.

It may be difficult to strike this kind of deal (although the teams would likely be willing too) with a super-marquee type of player like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. But it does seem like if a player like Mankins — or Jackson or McNeill — wants to secure his future now, he’ll have to work within this kind of structure.

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