ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Elvis Dumervil's route to riches was somewhat unconventional by today's NFL standards for superstars. He didn't posture, wasn't petulant or pouty. He didn't rip his coaches or 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 and general manager exchanged figures.
Dumervil hit pay dirt with a $61.5 million extension through 2015 that includes $43.168 million in guarantees, a record for a player at his pass-rushing position.
His agent and his coach both 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 got from family members and his agent.
"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, you know, 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.
Coach Josh McDaniels, who has shipped Pro Bowlers Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall out of town -- where they got 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.
Dumervil's agent, Gary Wichard, lauded both his client's quiet approach to an extension and also the Broncos for coming up big at a time when uncertainty surrounds the league's labor accord, 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, 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, a member of the same draft class 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, and the Dolphins gave him a contract extension through 2014 that could be worth $50 million.
One of McDaniels' first orders of business as coach in Denver was to grant Cutler's trade request and send his recalcitrant quarterback to the Bears, who gave him a two-year, $30 million extension last season.
About the only time Dumervil talked money publicly 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 accord, and they could have slapped the franchise tag on him after that, effectively keeping him away from unfettered free agency.
Instead, they rewarded him with the biggest deal since Champ Bailey's six-year, $63 million contract in 2005.
Dumervil realizes his sack total could go down this season even as his value rises because he'll 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."