Now entering his eleventh season, the days of rushing the passer as a Baltimore Raven are dwindling for Elvis Dumervil. He has been one of the Ravens best free agent signings in recent years.
Dumervil registered 17 sacks two years ago, tying a career high. He and Terrell Suggs formed one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing duos in 2014. Dumervil feels the 2016 season can be a repeat performance when Suggs returns from a torn Achilles.
“Me and Suggs… You’ve got two alphas, man, we love doing what we do.” Dumervil said. “A lot of times, what’s understood doesn’t really need to be talked about a lot. He’s a great teammate, he’s a great player and he’s a very confident guy. So, he’s going to do what he needs to do to make sure we can get what we need to get done.
“The last time we played, we were the [NFL’s] No. 1 [sacks] tandem, and so that’s something we’ll try to defend once we both get back healthy.”
The Ravens came close to beating the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots on the road in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Hopes were sky high for the Ravens as they entered the 2015 season. What a difference a year makes. Outside of the Ravens locker room, the expectations aren’t high for this season.
Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees has toyed with the idea of using Dumervil in strictly a pass rushing specialist role.
“We just have to use him however we have to use him,” Pees said in a press conference after minicamp. “I think he’s good with that, and we’ll figure out what’s the best thing for him. I can’t really tell you that right now. We’ll figure that out as the season goes on and gets started. We’ll try to use him in the best way that we possibly can for him and for us.”
Dumervil was on the field for the majority of Baltimore’s snaps on defense last year. Now one year older, it is a role that will take a toll on his body this season. Regardless, the 11 year veteran is up for the task.
“I plan not to do that again. I mean, I’ll do whatever I have to do,” Dumervil said. “But, ideally, I would love to have the rotation to keep guys rotating and keeping us fresh and keep guys doing what they do best. The end goal for me is to try to get to the postseason and win, so whatever duty I have to do to do that, I’m here to do that.”
That rotation could be the key to allowing Dumervil to stay fresh and last for the duration of the season. The Ravens are now in preservation mode for their star pass rusher.
As a result, they invested heavily in younger pass rushers during the 2016 NFL Draft and by way of rookie free agents. The Ravens drafted Boise State outside linebacker Kamalei Correa (2nd round, No.42 overall), BYU defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (3rd round, No.70 overall) and Grand Valley State outside linebacker Matt Judon (5th round, No.146 overall).
The Ravens also signed Stony Brooke outside linebacker Victor Ochi as an undrafted free agent. Ochi is a prospect that is very similar to Dumervil. Both are undersized but surprisingly powerful and difficult for taller offensive tackles to block.
In total, the Ravens brought in three prospects that play the same position as Dumervil. Second-year outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith figures to play a more prominent role this season as well.
Dumervil began to wear down as the 2015 season wore on. He only posted six sacks— the second-lowest total in his career. Dumervil’s contract expires after the 2017 season.
His cap number will be upwards of $8 million in 2017. There is a good chance the Ravens will move on from Dumervil after the 2016 season and save $6 million in cap money.