By Matt Vensel
2:07 PM EDT, March 18, 2013
The Ravens are interested in free-agent pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, according to my colleague Aaron Wilson. And considering that Dumervil has 63.5 career sacks in six NFL seasons, including a league-high 17 sacks in 2009, why wouldn’t any team that is looking to boost its pass rush reach out to Dumervil’s new agents?
(In case you, too, are still living in the 20th century, a faulty fax machine led to Dumervil’s release in Denver.)
The Broncos had agreed to terms on a restructured contract with a reduced salary to keep Dumervil in Denver, but when the paperwork didn’t arrive before a Friday deadline for a roster bonus, the team was forced to release him. Now he is arguably the most attractive option available a week into NFL free agency.
If the price is right, he would be a nice addition for the Ravens.
Dumervil is still a productive pass rusher who has the flexibility to fit into both 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes, something that could increase his numbers of suitors. While he was outshined by teammate Von Miller the past two seasons, Dumervil is on the right side of 30 -- he turned 29 in January -- and is still capable of getting after the quarterback, evidenced by his 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2012.
The Ravens know first-hand what Dumervil can do, having played him twice in 2012. In the regular-season meeting, Dumervil sacked quarterback Joe Flacco once and hit him on a few other plays. In the playoffs, he was mostly neutralized, though he did team up with Miller to sack Flacco on one play.
Compact and competitive, Dumervil was devalued because of his size coming out of Louisville in 2006. The Broncos drafted him in the fourth round, and he made an immediate impact with 8.5 sacks then 12.5 in his first two seasons. He was a first-team All-Pro after recording 17 sacks in 2009, but he missed the following season with a torn pectoral muscle. Upon his return, he continued to be a productive pass rusher.
If the Ravens were to sign him -- and they might have to get creative to open up the salary cap space to do so -- he theoretically would replace the production that Paul Kruger took with him to the Cleveland Browns, though Kruger could be an ascending player and Dumervil could be on the other end of the spectrum.
It would be interesting, though, to see how the Ravens divvied up the snaps between Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw.
Suggs should be back at full strength in 2013, especially if he is motivated to silence those who criticized him while he played with one good arm and one good leg last season. Meanwhile, Upshaw quietly had a solid rookie season, especially against the run, an area in which Dumervil has historically struggled (as evidenced by the poor run defense grades he received from Pro Football Focus).
Figuring which outside linebacker plays when would be a nice problem for coach John Harbaugh to have.
We know the Ravens always look for the right player at the right price. Dumervil seemingly fits the first half of that equation for the Ravens. (He also does for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are also suitors, and the New England Patriots keep coming up in the speculation about his future destination.) The trick for the Ravens, who finished in the middle of the pack with 37 sacks last season, is finding the right price for Dumervil.
Only they know how much they are willing to spend, but Dumervil seems to be the caliber of player and the kind of fit in their defense to consider splurging on -- by their standards -- if it is a legit possibility.
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