The Chiefs just made linebacker Justin Houston a $100 million man today by giving him a 6-year deal worth $101 million, with a guaranteed amount of $52.5 million. He becomes the richest linebacker in the history of the game and the new standard for linebacker contracts. That new standard could come back to haunt the Ravens soon.
The Ravens' own Elvis Dumervil ended the season ranked third in the NFL with 17 sacks on the season. With discussion from Dumervil that he wants to improve upon that number in 2015 and hit the mythical 23 sack number. With the Ravens' secondary back in order, he might actually hit the 20's this season if things work out his way.
If I can hit that number, that'll mean we'll be in the Super Bowl for sure.
However, what is good for the Ravens is also usually really good for the player when it comes time to discuss contracts.
While the Ravens have not had any real contract drama recently, Dumervil could decide that his salary is not enough for a player that has consistently done excellent when rushing the passer. Even though Dumervil is usually subbed out on run plays, the magical number that really dictates how outside linebackers are paid is the sack total. If Dumervil were to hit 20 sacks next season, that would give him a total of 46.5 over 3 seasons as a Raven and 37 in the last two seasons combined. Those types of numbers make player agents see dollar signs.
Dumervil came to the Ravens after a "fax snafu" following a contract disagreement between the Denver Broncos and Dumervil. Because of the issue and subsequent cutting, Dumervil entered the free agent market once all the big spenders had blown their wads on other players, leaving the Ravens to scoop up the Pro Bowl pass rusher for pennies on the dollar.
Dumervil signed a 5-year contract worth only $26 million before the 2013 season. With Houston's deal breaking records, Dumervil's agent is likely on the phone with the Ravens' pass rusher right now talking about how he can hold out next season for a bigger contract; and he'd be right.
Dumervil is only 31 years old right now and while even if he does hit 23 sacks, he won't get a deal worth anywhere close to what Houston pulled down simple due to their age difference. But Dumervil could ask to be in the top 5 outside linebackers and he'd get it somewhere. For example that older players can seriously get paid, look no further than Jared Allen. At 33, Allen has a contract with the Chicago Bears for 4-years and $32 million with a guarantee of $15.5 million. I see no reason why Dumervil and his team wouldn't want to see a deal right in that ballpark, say 4-years $35 million with $15 million guaranteed.
Sadly for the Ravens, they don't have that type of money available to them and I'm not too sure they would even want to spend that much on an aging player like Dumervil just because he is on an uptick. As most of us know, the Ravens have their 80/20 rule (80% of the production for 20% of the price) and might look to the younger players to take over. If Dumervil does hold out in 2016, the Ravens could cut him and save $2.625 million by doing so, and he would be incredibly tasty trade bait as well. With Ozzie Newsome being a "pick whore" according to owner Steve Bisciotti, I have little doubt that Newsome would jump on the cap savings and the extra top tier picks in the draft.
How that all pans out is based on how Dumervil does this season and if he wants to retire a Raven or make a boatload of cash. Looking at what Justin Houston's checks will be, I would expect Elvis to leave the building.