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Dalton shown door


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Heavy burden: Dalton shown door

By Lynn DeBruin, Rocky Mountain News

August 15, 2003

Lional "Jelly" Dalton thought he was on a roll after losing 36 pounds this off-season.

He was, as the Denver Broncos decided to roll him right out the door.


The man brought in 18 months ago to add beef to the Broncos' defensive front officially went on the trading block Thursday.

If Dalton can't be traded, he expects to be released.

"It (hurts) right now," Dalton said of the decision. "But I'm still young, I'll have another opportunity."

With prized free-agent acquisition Daryl Gardener out after undergoing wrist surgery, Dalton had been thrust back into the starting lineup at defensive tackle. But the Broncos recently demoted him in favor of second-year pro Monsanto Pope.

And with fourth-round pick Nick Eason and former University of Colorado standout Darius Holland playing well and defensive end Trevor Pryce also capable of playing inside, the Broncos decided it didn't make sense to pay Dalton $1.6 million this year.

"He's done a lot of what we asked of him. He shed the weight, was moving well," general manager Ted Sundquist said of Dalton, who received a $3 million signing bonus as part of a seven-year, $22 million deal in February 2002. "But in the end, when you've got two players who are close, you go with the cheaper, younger guys."

Tight end Shannon Sharpe, who shares the same agent as Dalton and played two seasons with him in Baltimore, said the business can be a cruel one at times.

"But obviously, they're not pleased with Lional's performance, and that's what it comes down to. You don't spend the kind of money they spent last year on him to be the No. 1 guy and let him go in a year," Sharpe said.

Dalton, a sixth-year pro, was a popular player in the locker room because of his girth and self-effacing humor.

Rookie Aaron Hunt said Dalton, aka Mr. Sexy, kept everybody's spirits up.

"He is a very likable guy, but in this business, it's not a popularity contest," Sharpe said. "It comes down to results, and either you get it done or you don't. I guess they feel he wasn't getting it done."

Dalton was a starter at defensive tackle for the first 13 games last season, only to be benched for ineffective play.

This off-season, with the Broncos switching to a scheme that required more quickness up front, Dalton got moving. He began an intense dieting/workout program.

He shed 36 pounds and reported to training camp at 309 - the lowest since his rookie year.

"I thought I was having a productive camp," Dalton said.

So was former seventh-round pick Pope, the surprise of the 2002 draft class, who was penciled in this week as a starter.

Pope showed off his athleticism in the preseason opener Saturday night by chasing down Texans wide receiver Corey Bradford on a reverse. He also helped hurry quarterback David Carr into a third-down incompletion and led the team with four solo tackles.

"We've got a lot of depth, a lot of young guys, and that's the direction we decided to go," defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said.

Dalton, while disappointed, was thankful coach Mike Shanahan didn't simply release him.

Instead, Shanahan called Dalton and wife Kim into his office Wednesday night and told them they intended to explore a trade and that Dalton should explore his own options.

Shanahan said the team already had talked with three or four teams but wasn't sure how soon a deal could get done.

With Dalton gone, former Buffs lineman Holland - signed two weeks ago to the veteran minimum - moves up to second string behind Pope. Eason, back in good graces after going AWOL two weeks ago, is second string behind Dorsett Davis at the other tackle position.

"I don't approach every day (thinking) that I'm secure and I don't have to try hard. This gets my attention, man," Eason said of the move Thursday.

If a trade is completed, the remainder of Dalton's prorated signing bonus ($2.574 million) accelerates into the cap this year.

The move would cost Denver an extra $284,000 against the cap this year. But the Broncos would be free of Dalton's $2.5 million cap hit next year.

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I don't see how you trade for him if we have to accept his $1.6 million salary this year. That's a lot of $$ for someone of unclear value - plus the pick we'd have to give up for him. That's money we need to sign Champ. Our only option is to let him get cut and sign him to the minimum. No one else is going to want to trade for him with that salary either, and if he gets cut, we would have the advantage over a lot of other teams because he could come in here and redeem himself quickly with good play on a one year contract and start again next year.

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Yeah, the Broncos are set at RB. They don't need Watson.

Anyway, this is a guy who's being cut despite Gardener being out for weeks during the season. Wait until he's cut and then pick him up if possible to have a look. The Broncos have to cut down their roster anyway (and good etiquette would have them cuttin him early anyway to allow the guy a chance elsewhere) so they won't dangle him as trade bait for very long.

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Gardener is only supposed to miss the first couple of games. If the Broncos have capable younger players at DT I can see why they would want to dump the salary now and move on.

Dalton is a somewhat analogous case to Wilkinson. the Broncos way overpaid Dalton in free agency because they saw he was from that great Baltimore defense and figured he was going to develop into a monster. Instead he is a decent DT.

Except they aren't paying him 'decent' dollars :)

Well, ditto for the Skins. Wilkinson is a little bit better than average DT by NFL standards, but nothing to write home about.

The Skins, however, bought the hype of his draft position and thought they were getting Reggie White from Cincinnati and payed him as if he already was at that level.

So, they ultimately had to release him because again he wasn't making 'decent' or 'little bit better than average' money :mad:

But all this doesn't mean that Dalton can't be valuable to the Skins in 2003 and that Wilkinson can't find a niche somewhere else AT THE APPROPRIATE COST :D

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It doesn't surprise me Denver is high on Monsanto Pope. If memory serves me, he came from UVA, and the old coach there once said that he was a potential 1st rounder (when he was a freshman or soph).... So he had some talent.

I can see with Gardner, Pryce and Pope all being in Denver's plans, that Dalton is expendable. Especially with the salary. With Eason and Darrius Holland as well, they have a surplus.

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Don't offer jack, wait til they cut him next week and snatch him up. If they feel as if they may lose him to someone else, than offer a 6th or 7th.

Don't give up Kenny Watson for a bum. He's worth more than that.


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A heavier Dalton is more ideal for our scheme than Denver's. At 340 lbs, Dalton is a guy who can hang up linemen and allow the LBs to make a play. At 309 I have to wonder if he's big enough to do this.

Trading for him would get him in camp quickly and get him used to our defensive scheme. On the other hand, he comes a LOT cheaper if we wait until he gets cut. The only problem there is someone else may offer him more money. I think there are several teams that would prefer him over BDW.

I agree we should NOT give any more than a 6th or 7th round pick for him but I'm not crazy about paying out that salary.

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I say offer a 6th rounder, no higher than 5th

It sounds as that he is productive and the fact he worked out and lost weight shows at least he's not lazy, and the whole Denver wanting to get rid of him may put some " I've got something to prove" attitude in him.

I say get him...I've gotta good feeling about him.

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