So, the first ball in the crowded big name DE market has dropped. Elvis Dumervil has signed with the Baltimore Ravens.
After agreeing to a restructured deal to keep the Denver Broncos under the cap, Dumervil's agent failed to submit the fax on time, forcing the Broncos to release him. This left Denver with about $4.87 million in dead money and cost Dumervil more than that. It also made him an unrestricted free-agent. While it reportedly remained his preference to stay with Denver, it would've been hard for them to give him the same money he would've made. While teams like the Patriots, Dolphins and Steelers also got in the mix, the Ravens stole Dumervil from their AFC rival and added a dangerous piece to a new look defense.
Obviously, this is a major move in the conference and it's the first domino to fall in a stacked market for defensive ends. We'll take a look at three ways this effects the AFC from a Patriots perspective.
1. Either John Abraham or Dwight Freeney will sign with the Broncos: The Patriots had both of these players in for a workout over a week ago, yet both are available. They also both visited with the Broncos but it wasn't believed that Denver had serious interest at the time.
Mike Klis of the Denver Post reported on March 21st that the Broncos really just wanted Dumervil back, but did have real interest in Dwight Freeney as a back up plan just in case. So, one would assume that is the direction they will move in. If that shoe drops, then the Patriots might FINALLY land John Abraham.
|Everyone's favorite Raven just got a running buddy|
I've always thought that the best teams are the teams that can win up front, the Ravens defensive front now has to be one of the best in the league on paper. They'll have Haloti Ngata and Chris Canty as well as Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil rushing the passer.
That's pretty dangerous.
They also will have Ladarius Webb returning to the secondary whom they were without most of last year. Some people forget that the Ravens actually weren't all that good last year until they got hot in the post-season. I believe it was a very smart move by Ozzie Newsome not to overpay to keep the team together just because they won it all in the end. They were still a flawed team, and a lot of their free-agents got overpaid. With the Dumervil and Canty signings and a load of draft picks, the Ravens have a solid foundation to build off of to continue to contend in the future.
Not the best news for Patriots fans.
3. Wes Welker's new team just got more unbalanced: Back to the Broncos. Last year, they not only had a dangerous Peyton Manning led offense, but also one of the top defenses in the league. They were tied for first in the NFL with 52 sacks last year. They were led on the defensive front by, of course, Von Miller with 18.5 sacks (3rd in the league) and Elvis Dumervil with 11 (t-14th). That's a pretty amazing duo to have, and they've just lost it because of a fax machine.
While I still believe that Dwight Freeney has a lot to offer a 4-3 team - like the Broncos - I thought he would be a better fit as more of a sub rusher at his age.
The Patriots likely wouldn't use Freeney as a full time starter but instead would be squeezing him into a rotation and let him loose after quarterbacks on passing downs. That's the reason I thought he'd be such a good fit in New England.
If the Broncos signed him, they would be signing him from a completely different position the Patriots would. They would need Freeney to step in and fill Dumervil's production, something I'm not sure he can do at his age.
So essentially the Broncos cannot replace Dumervil with the options available and therefore just became worse on defense. Now, having Von Miller entering only his third season will certainly help to alleviate a lot of that. Yet like I've said, to win in the NFL you need to be set up front. A place where the Broncos just got a lot weaker.