Gail Burton/Associated Press
Gail Burton/Associated Press
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Elvis Dumervil has nothing bad to say about his time in Denver. He even considered staying with the Broncos after a late fax made him a free agent.
When it came time to choose his future in the NFL, however, the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end decided it was best to play for a winner in a different city.
Dumervil passed his physical and signed a five-year contract with the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday. Wearing a checkered shirt and a broad grin, the 6-foot, 260-pounder fondly looked back on his time in Denver and eagerly spoke about the next – maybe final – stage of his NFL career.
“Sometimes you have to make a decision. You pray about it,” Dumervil said. “At the end of the day there was no ill will or hard feelings. I just felt it was a time to change scenery.”
The 29-year-old Dumervil became a free agent after his representative, whom subsequently was fired, was late in delivering the paperwork accepting a reduction in salary. So the Broncos chose to release him, and after weighing offers from Denver and Baltimore, Dumervil picked the Ravens.
“It was an unfortunate situation,” 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.”
The Ravens wasted almost no time pursuing the hard-charging pass rusher, especially after an offseason in which they lost free agents Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams, cut safety Bernard Pollard and traded wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
So general manager Ozzie Newsome worked out a salary-cap friendly deal worth around $35 million. After receiving a bit of encouragement via text message from Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, Dumervil accepted.
“I’ve known Terrell Suggs for a long time. He’s a great player, man,” Dumervil said. “He plays the run and rushes the passer. A great personality. I’m excited so we can merge, and obviously (linebacker Courtney) Upshaw as well, to try and get after quarterbacks.”
Coach John Harbaugh barely could contain his excitement.
“We just feel like Elvis Dumervil is our kind of guy,” he said. “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 we feared him, but we certainly respected him as a football player, trying to game plan all around him.”
Dumervil played in all 16 games with the Broncos last season, serving as team captain and registering 11 sacks for the top-seeded team in the AFC. Over seven seasons he has 63˝ sacks, an interception and 17 forced fumbles. His last game with Denver turned out to be a bitter overtime loss to the Ravens in the playoffs.
“I was in a hole for about a week,” Dumervil said.
Before the fax debacle, he was willing to take a pay cut to stay in Denver.
“I was drafted there. Honestly, I never intended to leave Denver,” Dumervil said. “But things happen. It’s just the way life is. It’s not like I’m the only person this happens to. A lot of guys have to make decisions.”
His decision to come to Baltimore was influenced in part by his relationship with Ravens inside linebackers coach Don Martindale, who coached Dumervil at Denver and played a part in convincing his former student to switch teams.
“As a coach, it’s all about relationships,” Martindale said. “Obviously, Elvis and I got really close back to Denver, not just because of the player he is, although that helps when he’s sacking the quarterback. But also as a person. I’m happy for both the Ravens and Elvis.”
No one in the room seemed happier than Dumervil, who joins a team with a reputation for playing rugged defense – and winning.
“Obviously I wanted to be somewhere where I felt like it was a family-type feel,” Dumervil said. “I knew the next choice I had to make was a place I felt like was stable, winners, 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 (Martindale) and the guys in that locker room, I felt it was a great opportunity to finish my career.”