Elvis Dumervil is putting his seven seasons in Denver and one bizarre fax fiasco behind him after agreeing to a five-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Dumervil tweeted his thanks to the Broncos and team owner Pat Bowlen shortly after rejecting the club's latest contract proposal.
"Can't say enough about the Broncos fans, my great teammates, equipment staff, training staff, media staff, Mr. Bowlen, Coach Fox, John Elway and the city of Denver. Its been an unforgettable 7 years. I am looking fwd to this next chapter of my career," Dumervil wrote.
So, after a second stinging loss to the Ravens this off-season, the Broncos find themselves in need of a new pass-rushing partner for Von Miller.
Broncos football operations chief John Elway issued a statement Sunday saying the Broncos "worked diligently over the last week" to re-sign Dumervil but "are now moving forward without him."
Free agents John Abraham, 34, and Dwight Freeney, 33, visited the Broncos last week and it's expected one of them will sign on soon to replace Dumervil, 29.
Dumervil collected 63 1/2 sacks in seven seasons in Denver, three of which ended with Pro Bowl berths. He was scheduled to fly from his off-season home in Miami to Baltimore to take his physical Tuesday and sign his new contract.
On March 15, Dumervil waffled but finally agreed to reduce his 2013 salary from $12 million to $8 million in Denver as part of a renegotiated three-year, $30 million contract. But the paperwork didn't reach the NFL offices in time and the Broncos were forced to release him to avoid having to pay him the full $12 million for next season.
Dumervil fired agent Marty Magid after that deadline debacle and hired agent Tom Condon.
The Broncos issued a new contract proposal to Dumervil and his new agent, but the Ravens swooped in and beat Denver for the second time this year — they also upset the AFC's top-seeded Broncos 38-35 in double-overtime in January on their way to winning the Super Bowl.
The Ravens have suffered several blows since beating San Francisco for the Lombardi Trophy, losing wide receiver Anquan Boldin, safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, cornerback Cary Williams, linebackers Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe and guard Bobbie Williams while also bidding star linebacker Ray Lewis and centre Matt Birk good luck in their retirements.
Luring Dumervil — and taking him from their AFC rivals — eases some of that sting.
The Broncos, on the other hand, have been one of the league's big spenders in free agency, acquiring wide receiver Wes Welker, right guard Louis Vasquez, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and linebacker Stewart Bradley — all of whom could be starting for a team that went 13-3 in Peyton Manning's first year in Denver last season.
The debacle with Dumervil put a big blemish on the Broncos' otherwise stellar off-season makeover. Dumervil agreed to a $4 million pay cut two weeks ago but when the paperwork didn't get submitted on time, the Broncos had to cut Dumervil or else his $12 million salary for next season would have been fully guaranteed.
By cutting him, they took a nearly $5 million salary cap hit for next season, which factored into the latest offer from Denver that Dumervil ultimately rejected in favour of Baltimore's.
"As we have from the start of this process, we worked diligently over the last week to find a way for Elvis Dumervil to remain a Denver Bronco," Elway said in a statement Sunday. "Although we made multiple contract offers to Elvis after being forced to release him, we were unable to reach an agreement and are now moving forward without him.
"Elvis was a team captain and a talented player who made a great impact during his seven seasons in Denver. I appreciate all of his effort on the field and the work he did in the community," Elway added. "I wish Elvis all the best as he continues his NFL career."
Although Dumervil was often replaced on early downs last season, the Broncos weren't eager to jettison him. But they thought his $12 million salary for next season was out of whack, so they asked him to take a cut in pay. Dumervil earned $14 million in each of the last two seasons, part of a six-year, $61.5 million deal he signed in 2010 shortly before missing that entire season with a torn chest muscle.
Dumervil is a popular teammate who will be sorely missed in Denver, both on and off the field.
"I concern myself with everything and the locker room's a huge one because you're dealing with players," coach John Fox said at the NFL owners meetings last week. "But I think our guys understand there's two sides of football. ... I don't know if business is my favourite part or anybody else's favourite part. But it's a part of football and it usually occurs in the off-season. So, they understand that and I think guys separate that."
Dumervil, a fourth-round draft pick out of Louisville in 2006, had 20 1/2 sacks the last two seasons, making two trips to the Pro Bowl alongside Miller, the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2011 who had 18 1/2 sacks last year, breaking the franchise record of 17 set by Dumervil in 2009.
Together they were dubbed "Doom & Gloom," and were the most prolific pair of pass-rushers in the league over the last two years.
Freeney, who played a decade with Manning in Indianapolis, has 107 1/2 career sacks in 11 seasons, all with the Colts. He had 13 1/2 sacks over the last two seasons.
Abraham has 122 sacks in 13 NFL season, six with the New York Jets and the last seven years with the Atlanta Falcons. He collected 19 1/2 sacks over the last two years.