The Baltimore Ravens announced Saturday afternoon that they’ve agreed in principle to a five-year contract with former Denver Broncos linebacker Elvis Dumervil. The deal ends a week of furious speculation over Dumervil’s future, after the Broncos released him on March 15 when he didn’t submit renegotiation paperwork on time. Broncos executive VP John Elway said he’d made several attempts to work out a new contract with Dumervil since last week but had been unable to come to an agreement.
Dumervil has played seven seasons with the Broncos but his position became unsure when Denver renegotiated his contract to make space under their salary cap. An agreement was reached on reducing his 2013 salary from $12 million to $8 million, but Dumervil’s agent – who he has since fired – filed the paperwork six minutes late. This leaves the Broncos with $4.869 million in dead money, but they now have just over $8 million to spare below their cap for the rest of the season. What the Denver Post are calling the “Dumervil Deadline Debacle” left both sides furious and looking for a way to get Dumervil back on the team, but the moment word got out that he was a free agent calls started coming in from teams keen to sign him.
As soon as Dumervil became available he was identified as a top choice for the Ravens, who have been looking for a new linebacker since long-serving player Ray Lewis retired last year. With Dumervil as a free agent Baltimore took their chance and according to ESPN offered a contract worth up to $35 million over five years. Latest reports say Dumervil will get a $1 million base salary this year, sweetened by a $7.5 million signing bonus, plus a $3.5 million injury guarantee on his option bonus for next year. That makes a minimum package of $12 million to start his career with the Ravens.
Dumervil will be reunited with former Broncos linebacker coach Don Martindale, who recommended his performance and work ethic to team officials. On top of his record with the Broncos Martindale’s support will have made him an attractive option for the Ravens, who have been looking to beef up their defense. With Dumervil probably playing outside linebacker along with former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs, and defensive linemen Marcus Spears and Chris Canty already in the defense, the Ravens should be a lot harder to get past. Manager Ozzie Newsome has faced criticism for the departure of eight starters from last season, but if the new defense proves its worth this is likely to be quickly forgotten.
The Broncos’ defense is now up in the air as they look to replace Dumervil. Former Arizona Cardinal Stewart Bradley joined the team on March 13, but doubts remain about his performance since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in 2009. With D.J. Williams (now at the Chicago Bears) released last year after a troubled season the Broncos will be looking carefully at their next linebacker picks.