Making a major splash in free agency isn’t the usual modus operandi of the Baltimore Ravens. General Manager Ozzie Newsome’s motto of “right player, right price” has proven effective as the Ravens have most recently won a Super Bowl Championship, a perfect ending to five-straight playoff appearances.
If the Ravens ever found themselves competing for the services of a big-name player, they’ve always had an ace up their sleeve with legendary linebacker Ray Lewis – a luxury they no longer have.
After a fax machine snafu led to the release of Denver Broncos linebacker Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens essentially had a top tier pass rusher in his prime fall directly into their lap. Given that the free-agency period likely hadn’t gone 100 percent according to the Ravens’ original plan, the team couldn’t afford to let Dumervil play elsewhere, even at the tone of a five-year $35 million contract (almost the exact amount at which they didn’t see fit to re-sign linebacker Dannell Ellerbe).
Now that Lewis has moved onto his post-NFL career in television, the Ravens relied on a friend of Dumervil, and the person who will likely benefit most from his addition to the team: linebacker Terrell Suggs.
On Thursday, Dumervil officially signed his contract with the Ravens after passing a physical; shortly thereafter, he met with the media and spoke about the next wave of locker room recruiting tools.
“I got a few text from ‘T-Sizzle’ [Terrell Suggs] as you call him,” Dumervil said while trying to acclimated to the nicknames of his new teammates. Dumervil also stated that he spoke with defensive end Haloti Ngata.”[I've] got a great amount of respect for those guys. They’ve been doing this thing for a long time.”
Even though Lewis may not heavily recruit for the Ravens as he has done in the past, evidence of his body of work during 17 legendary years in Baltimore may help just as much as a phone call or text message.
“Obviously, being world champions helps,” Dumervil said. “I wanted hardware myself, so I’m a little envious right now.”
In successfully luring Dumervil away from Denver, the biggest contributor was Ravens current inside linebackers coach and former Broncos defensive coordinator, Don “Wink” Martindale. During their time together in Denver, Martindale was instrumental in Dumervil’s ascension to one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers.
“Ever since he departed from Denver, it was a big breaking point in my NFL career,” Dumervil said of Martindale. “He helped me a lot, moving from a very adverse situation moving from defensive end to outside linebacker, and he made that transition very smooth. I learned a lot and soaked it up like a sponge.”
Martindale also praised Dumervil.
“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,” Martindale said. “I’m happy for both the Ravens and Elivs for what a class organization this is, what a great city it is. I’m happy that Elvis got to meet Ozzie and go through this whole process and see how classy that part of it is.”
Dumervil will join a group of players who hope to continue to carry on the legacy of defense Lewis left in Baltimore. If successful, Dumervil will hopefully become one of many recruiting tools at the Ravens disposal during his five-year deal – a deal that, coincidentally, expires the same year Lewis is expected to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.