Over the last few weeks, the Baltimore Ravens front office has made it clear that they’re changing the identity of the team that just helped them win a Super Bowl.
Ray Lewis’ retirement, the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin and release of safety Bernard Pollard has freed the Ravens locker room of many of vocal leaders that once occupied it. Safety Ed Reed’s future with the team still remains in doubt, but if the Ravens have proven one thing it’s that their Super Bowl-winning head coach, John Harbaugh, will have total control over the locker room.
The other decisions made by the front office can purely be looked at as business. After re-signing their top free-agent priority, quarterback Joe Flacco, further breaking the bank for linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe wasn’t necessarily a possibility even thought he Ravens would have certainly benefitted from keeping players they’ve brought up as they enter their prime. Instead, both players have since signed with other teams and are enjoying their newfound fortunes.
After a fax machine snafu led to Elvis Dumervil’s released from the Denver Broncos, the former defensive end would be a welcomed fit as an outside linebacker in the Ravens’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Frankly, Dumervil is a great fit in most defenses, but the problem is paying him.
Over the weekend, the Baltimore Sun reported that the Ravens have “serious interest” in Dumervil. Many believe that signing the three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher will soften the blow of losing both Kruger and Ellerbe on the Ravens defense, but when looking at the salary cap, it doesn’t necessarily seem like a reality.
In 2010, Dumervil signed a six-year $61.5 million contract with the Broncos and was due to make $12 million this upcoming season. The Broncos asked Dumervil to reduce his salary to a reported amount of $8 million for 2013, but he was released after the paperwork wasn’t filed by the 4 p.m. ET deadline. The reason for such a deadline was that Dumervil’s contract stated that his 2013 salary be fully guaranteed, which at the time was still his original rate of $12 million.
Knowing that Dumervil was willing to work for $8 million in Denver doesn’t mean he’ll do so elsewhere. The Ravens can leverage their winning ways to attempt to get Dumervil to play for less money, but other teams like the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly interested in his services as well.
The biggest deterrent in the Ravens signing Dumervil is if he doesn’t budge from having his upcoming 2013 salary fully guaranteed. Dumervil will have to sign a new contract with whatever team he ends up playing for, thus nullifying that option, but he could use it as leverage as guaranteed money is typically the underlying determining factor of where a high profile free-agent ends up signing. Given the Ravens’ current salary cap situation, if Dumervil wants his salary fully guaranteed in 2013, it’ll have to come from another team, not the Ravens.
Finally, the Ravens have plenty of decisions to make with their current big names on defense – in particular, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb. Each of these aforementioned players will be playing to see the back ends of their contracts, which eats up a large chunk of the money that could be used on Dumervil. In 2014, these players account for three of the top five highest salaries on the team, taking up a whopping $38.9 million of cap space.
When healthy, the impact that Ngata, Suggs or Webb can make at their respective positions is greater than the luxury of adding Dumervil to the defense.
If there is a way that the front office can drive down Dumervil’s value and he ultimately signs with the Ravens, I won’t necessarily question the move given that the Ravens have a little extra money to play with by not re-signing Ellerbe. However, the chances of the Ravens adding Dumervil is unlikely. That the Ravens have been mentioned as a possibility is probably just the usual ploy from his (new) agent to drive up his asking price for his eventual team.