ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Elvis Dumervil's route to riches was somewhat unconventional by today's NFL standards for superstars. He didn't posture, and he wasn't petulant or pouty. He didn't rip his coaches and the front office, hold out of minicamps or ask for a trade.
Coming off an NFL-leading and team-record 17 sacks last season, Dumervil signed his restricted free-agent tender and continued working out with the Denver Broncos during the offseason while his agent, Gary Wichard, and the team exchanged figures.
Dumervil hit pay dirt Friday with a $61.5 million contract extension that runs through 2015 and includes $43.168 million in guarantees -- a record for a player at his pass-rushing position.
His agent and his coach suggested Dumervil's payday wasn't just about his pass-rushing prowess but also came about because of his patience and professionalism.
Dumervil said he was raised with a strong work ethic, and he praised the advice he received from family members and Wichard.
"And so at the end of the day, I knew my value and there was no need to go out and pout or go out the way other guys may have handled things because I know that character is No. 1 for me, and I knew if I could bring the stats along with that, it gave me a good chance," Dumervil said.
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, who has shipped Pro Bowler players Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall out of Denver -- where they received big extensions from their new teams -- said the humble, hardworking Dumervil is the kind of player a team can be built around.
"The way he has handled this lengthy negotiation this offseason is a great example of the type of player and person we want on our team," McDaniels said.
Wichard lauded both his client's quiet approach to an extension and the Broncos for coming up big at a time when uncertainty surrounds the NFL's labor deal, which is set to expire after the upcoming season.
"I give all the credit to Elvis for conducting himself with class throughout the whole process this off season," Wichard told The Associated Press in an e-mail Friday. "Also, (Broncos general manager) Brian Xanders did a great job of getting this done through some tough circumstances and signing a 'Josh McDaniels guy.'"
Dumervil's approach stood in stark contrast to that of Marshall, who was a similar bargain for the Broncos for several seasons as a fourth-round steal in 2006.
Marshall's petulance consumed the team at times last season. He was suspended during training camp and again for the season finale for insubordination. The Broncos traded him to Miami just before the draft in April, and the Dolphins gave him a contract extension that runs through 2014 and could be worth $50 million.
One of McDaniels' first orders of business as Broncos coach was to grant Cutler's trade request and send his recalcitrant quarterback to the Chicago Bears, who gave him a two-year, $30 million extension last season.
About the only time Dumervil publicly discussed money last season was when he mentioned in passing to an AP reporter that pass-rushers "get paid" because of their value to a team's defense. So stunning was his comment that teammates who overheard it immediately gave him grief, albeit good-naturedly.
Dumervil thrived last season in the Broncos' new defensive alignment that turned him from a classic 4-3 defensive end in a three-point stance into a stand-up outside linebacker in the 3-4. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro, burnishing his credentials for a contract extension.
Although the total value of Dumervil's deal isn't as high as other top pass-rushers, his $43.168 million in guaranteed money surpasses that of Chicago's Julius Peppers ($42 million), Dallas' DeMarcus Ware ($40 million), Baltimore's Terrell Suggs ($38 million) and Minnesota's Jared Allen ($31 million).
The Broncos could have put off a deal with Dumervil because the league might shut down in 2011 without a new labor deal, and they could have slapped the franchise tag on him after that, effectively keeping him away from unfettered free agency.
Instead, the Broncos rewarded Dumervil with the team's biggest deal since Champ Bailey's six-year, $63 million contract in 2005.
Dumervil said his sack total could go down this season even as his value rises because he will see plenty of double-teams and offenses scheming away from him. That makes it imperative for the Broncos to develop another pass-rusher such as outside linebacker Robert Ayers.
"If my sack total goes down and other guys make plays -- that's what it's all about," Dumervil said. "It's not really about the numbers all the time, it's about how effective I can be in trying to free up someone else. As far as that guy, I don't know. We'll have to see when the time happens."
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.