In one of the quirkiest NFL contract-related events, we present to you new accidental free agent defensive end Elvis Dumervil, formerly of the Denver Broncos.
Dumervil, under contract with the Broncos for $12M, was told by team management that he either had to accept a pay cut to $8M per season or be released by 4 p.m. ET on Friday – if he was still under contract by this time his contract would have been guaranteed for the 2013 season and the Broncos were not going to let that happen.
Dumervil and his agent Marty Magid agreed to the reduced salary about 3:30 p.m. on Friday and called the team to inform them.
They then had to fax back a signed renegotiated contract by 4:00 p.m… and it arrived at 4:06 p.m. At 3:59 p.m. Dumervil was cut from the Broncos.
Here are some pieces from the fallout of this contract communication snafu:
– Because of the verbal acceptance of the offer, apparently the Broncos made some phone calls to see if the league would accept the deal. According to Yahoo! Sports, who were quoting Mike Klis of the Denver Post:
The Broncos did ask the league office if it would honor the verbal agreement on a restructured contract the team negotiated with Dumervil. The league rejected the request. And now (NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice) Smith is going to look into the matter because with so much blame going around as to how the contract exchange was botched, it was the player who may have been most hurt.
– The Broncos are free to sign Dumervil back, but the salary cap implications are different. From a statement released by the Broncos after Dumervil’s release:
Due to this situation, there are now salary-cap implications associated with this transaction that we must consider with regard to potentially re-signing Elvis. At this moment, we are discussing all of our free-agency options to determine what’s best for the Denver Broncos.
Magid was also indicated to be shopping Dumervil around and other teams had expressed interest in signing him.
– However, there’s a lot of blame going around. A report is surfacing that Dumervil has now fired Magid as his agent.
– In addition, the NFLPA is going to look into the entire proceedings. (Whatever that entails.)
So here’s why this is such a weird situation. Just like with National Letters of Intent signed by high schoolers to accept athletic scholarships, why are we still using outdated technology like fax machines? We have phones with photo-sharing capabilities, we can send videos of us signing documents, we have document scanners, we have signable .pdf documents that can be transmitted online…is the use of fax machines still in place simply because the rules say they must be used?
If that’s the case, why are we not updating the rule to reflect new technology? This becomes a process problem, and just shows that “that’s the way it’s always been done” remains tried and true in the sports industry because no one wants to rock the boat. Bad technology adds (or keeps) extra steps in a process and extends time and effort exerted by its users and forces some users to wait on the process to complete.
But even still, while we don’t know all the details (those that the NFLPA is looking into) is the blame being pointed in the right direction? Is Magid to blame? Was there a technology breakdown that could be more to blame?
And is the NFL wound so tight in policy and “that’s the rule, there’s nothing I can do” that they can’t accept the verbal offer acceptance? The intent was pretty clear.
A very bizarre situation that could have been helped by the NFL keeping up with the technology advances and maybe not being so rooted in policy. We’ll see how this all shakes out.