Derek Wolfe was a fan-favorite in Denver.
The Mile-High denizens identified with his work ethic and overall blue-collar mentality.
Those attributes will also fit perfectly with the Ravens.
Wolfe was originally selected by the Broncos in the second round of the 2012 draft. He spent his entire career in Denver before entering the free-agent market after last season.
Wolfe, however, had already set his sights on Baltimore last season when the Broncos were struggling and heading for a rebuild. Ultimately, Denver decided not to re-sign Wolfe, who pivoted back to the Ravens.
“I had a feeling the Broncos weren’t going to try to get me back,” Wolfe said. “When a team doesn’t try to extend you during the season, it’s kind of a good sign that they’re ready to move on. So, my first choice was the Ravens. I actually, during the regular season, was thinking – was being pushed towards the trade deadline.
“I wanted to come to the Ravens. So, I was going to go up and ask [Denver Broncos president of football operations/general manager] John Elway for the trade, and I decided against it because I wanted to show my loyalty to the team I had been with for eight years. So, I decided against that. I’m extremely happy.”
After a deal with Michael Brockers fell apart over injury concerns, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta signed Wolfe to a one-year deal worth up to $6 million — $3 million in salary, $3 million with incentives. Wolfe had 299 tackles, 33 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble over eight years in Denver.
Wolfe missed four games last season because of a dislocated elbow, but still managed a career-high seven sacks, breaking the previous high of six that he set his rookie year. Wolfe has played an entire 16-game season just twice (2012 and 2014) over his eight-year NFL career.
Wolfe said that he is fully healthy and ready to make an impact in Baltimore. Wolfe conceded the elbow injury might have raised some concerns with the Ravens.
“It’s been a bumpy road, but for the most part I’ve actually been pretty healthy,” Wolfe said. “These injuries just come … It was the same injury that was nagging, and I finally got that surgery that cleared it up.
“I dislocated my elbow, obviously, having the best season of my career, showing that I have a ton of football left, and then I go out there and dislocate my elbow. And I think that hurt me. But once I saw that Brockers was signed, I was like, ‘Ah.’ That kind of closed one door. But when one door closes, another opens, so a couple other teams jumped on it.”
The addition of Wolfe will be a boost to the interior pass rush. Both he and Calais Campbell are adept at getting to the quarterback and stopping the run. They’ll be a perfect compliment to Brandon Williams and the Ravens should have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
Wolfe has even loftier expectations.
“When I saw that Calais was going up there and I knew that Brandon was up there already, it was a no-brainer for me,” Wolfe said. “It was just like, ‘You know what, man? I think we can have the best defensive line in the league, for sure, and we could break records. We could break the rushing record – yards per rush, stuff like that.’
“Those are the kind of goals that I like to set. Sometimes you don’t reach them, but you can get close, and that helps you win. So, I think that we’re going to be able to shut that run game down, and then when it comes to our offense keeping us up by 10, 20 points a game, it’s going to get ugly for these quarterbacks.”