Never underestimate the importance of paperwork.
The Denver Broncos got defensive end Elvis Dumervil to agree to a pay cut but then still released him after failing to get the paperwork to the league office before the 4 p.m. EST deadline, according to various reports.
At 3:41 p.m. EST, Adam Schefter of ESPN tweeted that Dumervil and the Broncos had restructured his contract, lowering his base salary.
Unfortunately for the parties involved, the agreement being reached by the player and his agent is just one step in the process. The reworked deal needed to be submitted to the league before its deadline. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post (whose tweets reference local time in Denver), the Broncos did not receive a signed copy of the agreement back from Dumervil until after the deadline had passed.
Dumervil's agent, Marty Magid, offered a slightly different timeline to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Magid claimed that the team cut Dumervil before the deadline.
Regardless of the precise timing, the Broncos apparently felt forced to choose between cutting Dumervil or having the higher salary from his previous contract becoming locked in. Citing a Broncos source, Jeff Darlington of NFL.com reported that the team waived the veteran rather than pay him.
With Dumervil being a free agent, the Broncos may negotiate a new deal with him. Of course, other teams are now able to swoop in. Will this paperwork fiasco cost Dumervil or the team? Or both?
More from the Associated Press:
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Time really is money. Nobody knows that better than Elvis Dumervil and the Denver Broncos.
Dumervil found himself out of a job and the Broncos were without their best defensive end Friday afternoon after they reached an agreement on a new contract but saw it all come undone when tardy filing of the paperwork forced Denver to release him.
A person familiar with the negotiations gave The Associated Press details about the confusion. The person did not want to be identified because the negotiations were not public.
According to that person, the day played out like this:
_ At 1:25 p.m., Denver time, Dumervil agreed to take a $4 million pay cut to remain with the AFC West champions for 2013.
_ The paperwork was ready to be signed and sent to the league. But with the clock ticking on a 1:59 p.m. deadline, the Broncos were not seeing any sign of the signed copy on their fax machine
_ With no signed contract in hand as 1:59 approached, the Broncos were forced to cut Dumervil, because once the 1:59 deadline passed, they were on the hook for the $12 million they owed him in the original contract.
_ The team received the signed contract via fax at 2:06 p.m. That was seven minutes past the deadline and about 15 minutes later than they needed to receive it so they could review it and send it to the league.
Dumervil's agent, Marty Magid, did not return messages left by AP via text and voicemail.
Dumervil is now a free agent, dumped late onto a market where one top defensive end, Cliff Avril, just signed a two-year deal with Seattle worth an average of $7.5 million a year.
The Broncos now can start looking at other defensive ends, including Dwight Freeney, in what appears to be a buyer's market for pass rushers.
Though the parties had agreed on a deal, the odds of Dumervil returning to Denver are hampered because cutting him could leave them with a salary cap hit of up to nearly $5 million.
Dumervil was second on the team last year with 11 sacks, but Broncos front office executive John Elway asked him to take a pay cut because the $12 million was well over the market price, even for top pass rushers this year. Dumervil led the league in sacks in 2009 (17) and the Broncos, then under coach Josh McDaniels, rewarded him with a six-year, $61.5 million contract. Dumervil received $14 million in 2011 and 2012.
The confusing day closes out what had been an otherwise successful week for Elway and the Broncos, who brought Wes Welker and four other free agents onto the roster and also re-signed defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. They clearly wanted Dumervil to stay for the right price but now must decide whether to restart negotiations with him, pursue another edge pass rusher in free agency or wait until next month's draft.