Elvis Dumervil doesn’t hold any hard feelings toward the Denver Broncos for the fax snafu that erased a contract offer and made him a free agent. Speaking at his introductory press conference after signing a five-year, $35 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end only seemed interested in looking into the future, not rehashing the past.
“The very reasons why I’m here - it’s tough,” Dumervil told reporters at the Under Armour Performance Center when asked about his departure from Denver. “Obviously, the friendship you establish, you create over the years, the community - being part of the community, helping the organization and programs. Those are things you miss. Your teammates, there are a lot of great people that I can’t say enough about: the head trainers - great men, the equipment staff guys, the guys who do the yards, just the relationships you build. It’s tough. It was a tough decision to make, but I knew when I was involved in negotiations with the Baltimore Ravens that I was making a good choice.”
The Broncos asked the 29-year-old to take a $4 million pay cut for next season - even after recording 11 sacks. He agreed, but his agent - who’s now his ex-agent - was late in faxing back the necessary paperwork. As a result, the Broncos cut ties with Dumervil, making him an unexpected free agent.
The Ravens, retooling their defense after the retirement of linebacker Ray Lewis and the departures of several key free agents - linebacker Paul Kruger to the Browns, linebacker Dannel Ellerbe to the Dolphins and safety Ed Reed to the Texans - were quick to contact Dumervil, who jumped at the chance to join Baltimore.
“Sometimes you have to make a decision about it,” Dumervil told reporters. “We prayed about it. At the end of the day, there was no ill will. There were no hard feelings. I just felt it was time to change scenery. Obviously, I wanted to be somewhere where I felt like it was family-type feel, because obviously, the Denver Broncos were all I’ve ever known (my entire) career. I knew the next choice I would have to make would have to be somewhere I felt like it was stable, winners, a place that was tough, loves football and seems fun.”
A bonus to signing with the Ravens was reuniting with Ravens inside linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale, who was his coach in Denver in 2009, when he led the NFL with 17 sacks.
“I want to make sure that I don’t say ‘excited’ and ‘happy’ 7,000 times with this, but as a coach, it’s all about relationships,” Martindale told reporters. “Obviously, Elvis and I got really close back in Denver, not just because of the player that he is - although that helps when he is sacking the quarterback - but also as a person. I am happy for both the Ravens and Elvis because of what a class organization this is, what a great city it is.”
It wasn’t a hard sell for Dumervil.
“Obviously, me and Wink go back, as he alluded (to),” Dumervil told reporters. “It came down with my decision to friendship and family, and I always valued that. Ever since he departed from Denver, it was a big part of my breaking point in my NFL career. He helped me a lot in a really adverse situation, moving from defensive end to outside linebacker, and he made that transition very smooth, and I learned a lot and soaked it up like a sponge. So when I wanted to make that the decision,(Ravens GM) Ozzie Newsome, the way he has carried this organization since he’s been here, and obviously, the great job coach (John Harbaugh) has done just bringing that relentless-type, toughness-type football team, and that’s what I like to try to (mold) my game as. So the opportunity presented itself, and I am so thankful and so honored to be here and just going to try to fit in and be a part of this family.”
Once Dumervil was on the open market, the Ravens moved swiftly. Fortifying their defense was one thing, getting a playmaker who can rush the passer was too tempting to pass up.
“It was just that fast,” Harbaugh told reporters. “I don’t think there was any question that, obviously, Elvis is a guy we’ve known. We talk about these things all the time as a staff. Ozzie and I have conversations hourly it seems like, especially this time of the year. But, when that happened, I don’t think we had to communicate. We just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, let’s try to make this happen.’ 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 mold those two things together and build the best football team we can. We knew right away that Elvis would be a perfect fit if we could make it happen. We were on the phone right away.”
The addition of Dumervil to a healthy Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs will make it difficult for opponents to defend the Ravens up front.
“I’m excited,” Dumervil told reporters. “I did play with a pretty good outside rusher last year in (Broncos outside linebacker) Von Miller. What Terrell Suggs brings to the table, obviously, he was once a Defensive Player of the Year. We had the same agent before, so I knew a lot about him. I tried to chase his sack record in college - I couldn’t beat it. So I’ve known Terrell Suggs for a long time and he’s a great player. He plays the run, he rushes the passer, (is a) great personality. So I’m excited (that) we can come and merge, obviously (Courtney) Upshaw as well, and just try to get after quarterbacks.”
Dumervil joins a Ravens defense that has already added defensive tackle Chris Canty and defensive end Marcus Spears as free agents. But he’s bringing a rookie’s enthusiasm to his new team despite his veteran status.
“In this world, you have to prove a point, and you have to prove yourself, and I’m all about that,” Dumervil told reporters. “I think year in and year out, that’s what drives me. I’d go in as a rookie every year so you have to prove yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m excited. My attitude and the way I approach it is that is my mentality. I have a chip on my shoulder; I may have a brick wall now. 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.”