The Ravens always held a strong edge when it came down to recruiting and signing Pro Bowl outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil following the expensive fax debacle that got him cut by the Denver Broncos.
It was a convincing selling point that the Ravens had linebackers coach Don "Wink" Martindale on their coaching staff. When Martindale coached Dumervil with the Broncos, he once led the NFL with 17 sacks four years ago.
Now that Dumervil has settled in with the Ravens after signing a five-year, $35 million maximum value deal in March that included a $7.5 million signing bonus, he acknowledged again the pivotal role that Martindale played in making his decision.
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"I call him Wink, Wink is great," Dumervil said following a recent organized team activity practice. "We were in Denver together, and he's been a standup guy, a standup coach. And he's a really good coach as well. So, having those memories in Denver and, obviously, going to have to make that decision, that was kind of a good intro to have. He spoke highly of the Ravens, and he was absolutely right."
Dumervil has described his relationship with Martindale as being like family because of the trust factor and the veteran coach being a straight shooter.
After the Broncos cut Dumervil following a blown NFL deadline that forced the AFC West franchise to part ways with the 29-year-old rather than pay him $12 million guaranteed this year, Martindale was in touch with his former player.
During an introductory press conference in March, Martindale was sitting next to him with a big smile on his face.
"Obviously, Elvis and I got really close back in Denver, not just because of the player that he is, although that helps when he's sacking the quarterback, but also as a person," said Martindale, who coaches the Ravens' inside linebackers. "There's no task too big for him. Whatever you need him to do, he's going to do it. The thing that jumped out to me the most from our time in Denver, we know about rushing the quarterback, but when you needed a big play, Elvis always seemed like the guy that made the play."
Following the press conference, Martindale further discussed his rapport with Dumervil.
"Coaching and relationships, that's the No. 1 thing in being a coach," Martindale said. "We grew really close. I helped him get through some things and he's helped me. He's a good person. Without sounding like a dad who's proud of his kid, it was real easy to talk to him about Baltimore. He wants a ring."