ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Derek Wolfe's season began with a four-game drug suspension and will end with a four-year contract extension worth $36.7 million.
The Denver Broncos and the defensive end agreed to the deal Friday.
After three up-and-down years, Wolfe became the inside force that the Broncos projected when they selected him in the second round in the 2012 draft.
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''Derek Wolfe's developed into one of the top DLs in the NFL,'' GM John Elway tweeted.
In a testament to his run defense and interior pressure, Wolfe earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Green Bay in November even though he didn't record a sack in that game.
He recorded at least a half-sack in six of Denver's final eight games.
Wolfe set career highs with 49 tackles, 35 solo and 5 1/2 sacks in 12 games.
Denver's league-best defense has several other players whose contracts are up soon: linemen Malik Jackson and Antonio Smith, leading tackler Danny Trevathan, safety David Bruton Jr., and outside linebacker Von Miller, although he figures to face the franchise tag like wide receiver Demaryius Thomas did before signing a five-year, $70 million deal last summer.
The Broncos led the league in defense for the first time in franchise history and also in sacks with 52.
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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton