ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — 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.
Broncos front office chief John Elway said the team delivered its final contract proposal to Dumervil at 11 a.m. and set a 1 p.m. deadline for a decision. Elway said Dumervil accepted the contract at around 1:25 and "although we expressed our concern regarding the time constraints, we were assured that the signed documents would be submitted to us before the league's waiver deadline."
"We did not receive the documents from Elvis by the league's deadline and were forced to release him shortly before 2 p.m. MDT," Elway said.
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 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.