The conversations between Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh have been constant over the last month. Each roster defection has seemingly spurred another phone call or trip across the hall for further discussion.
But when Elvis Dumervil’s contract was terminated by the Denver Broncos on March 15 following an infamous fax machine incident, Newsome and Harbaugh said very little to each other. Their next move was assumed.
“I don’t think we had to communicate. We just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s try to make this happen,’” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “We have a plan in place, we’ve got a vision for how we want to try to take the financial situation and take the roster and try to meld those two things together and build the best football team that we can. We knew right away that Elvis would be a perfect fit if we could make it happen.”
Dumervil, a 29-year-old outside linebacker, passed his physical Tuesday at the Under Armour Performance Center and signed his five-year deal with the reigning Super Bowl champs that could be worth as much as $35 million. The deal includes $12 million guaranteed and $8.5 million for the 2013 season.
Dumervil chose the Ravens over the Broncos who made him a similar offer. The two teams, who met in a thrilling AFC divisional playoff matchup, will play this coming season in Denver and the newest Raven said that he’s already got “goose bumps” thinking about it.
“At the end of the day there was no ill will or hard feelings. I just felt it was a time to change scenery,” Dumervil said at an afternoon news conference at the team facility. “Obviously, I wanted to be somewhere where I felt like it was a family-type feel. Obviously the Denver Broncos, I've know all my career. I knew the next choice I had to make was a place I felt like was stable, winners and a place that was tough and loves football and seems fun. From the top on down, from the owner, Ozzie and John and obviously having a relationship with [inside linebackers coach Don Martindale] and the guys in that locker room, I felt it was a great opportunity to finish my career. “
In six seasons in Denver, Dumervil had 63.5 sacks and 17 forced fumbles and was selected to three Pro Bowls . Last year, he finished second on the Broncos behind Von Miller with 11 sacks and tied for a team-high with six forced fumbles. His best year came in 2009 when he had a league-high 17 sacks while playing under Martindale who was then the Broncos’ linebackers coach.
That season, Dumervil was used as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, the role he’ll play with the Ravens.
“I think the thing that Elvis has always shown year in and year out, tell him he can't do something and he gets it done,” Martindale said. “I talked to Elvis on the phone not just about being excited because we're world champions. That's the easy thing. It's the people in this building. He's going to have a lot of fun here in Baltimore.”
The former Louisville standout said he “never intended to leave Denver but things happen.” Still, he acknowledged that his exit was “a bit shocking [and] surprising.”
Dumervil had agreed to the Broncos’ request that he take a $4 million pay cut on his $12 million salary for 2013. However, the revised paperwork did not arrive via fax in the NFL’s New York offices in time to beat the 2 p.m. deadline on March 14. As a result, the Broncos terminated Dumervil’s contract and Dumervil fired his agent, Marty Magid, and hired Tom Condon of CAA.
“It was an unfortunate situation that happened,” Dumervil said. “Obviously leaving a really good organization like the Denver Broncos, they're proven winners, I have nothing but good things to say about the organization. But when an opportunity came that I could come to another winner and a first-class organization, it was just leaving one great one to another great one. So I took it.”
After he became a free agent, Dumervil was recruited by Martindale, along with Ravens defensive standouts Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. He said that Suggs told him that “it would be a great idea if I would become a Raven and I need to go ahead and make it happen.”
Much of the talk this offseason has been about the Ravens’ roster losses, particularly on defense. The Ravens have lost six key performers from the group that beat Denver on the way to the Super Bowl, a loss that Dumervil joked put him in “a hole” for a week.
However, the addition of Dumervil, who has averaged 12.5 sacks over his last three seasons, opposite Suggs now gives the Ravens one of the better pass-rush tandems in the NFL.
“We just feel like Elvis Dumervil is our kind of guy,” Harbaugh said. “We feel like he is the kind of person that fits us. We like to say things like, ‘He’s a Raven.’ That’s how he’s always played. We loved him coming out of Louisville. In some ways, I don’t want to say feared him, but we certainly respected him as a football player. This is the kind of player that you have to game plan around so we’re really excited to have him here on our team, we’re really excited to have him as part of our organization.”
Wearing a purple-striped shirt, Dumervil made it clear that the Ravens are getting a motivated player.
“I have a chip on my shoulder. I may have a brick wall now,” he said. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get out there with the guys and really compete and just bring that to the table.”
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