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Elvis Dumervil contract saga to be examined by union

A disastrous technological blunder involving a spotty fax machine has turned Elvis Dumervil from a starting pass rusher for the Denver Broncos into a free agent.

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The Broncos -- fuming -- have asked the league office to honor Friday's initial verbal agreement on a restructured contract for Dumervil, but the NFL rejected that request, according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post.

That opens up a potential opportunity for the NFL Players Association to step into the mix. Klis reported Saturday that NFLPA executive DeMaurice Smith intends to examine the matter, certainly with an eye toward protecting Dumervil.

There's precedent for this.

Terrell Owens was subject to a similar paperwork fiasco in 2004, when he tried to void the final three years of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers to test the market as a free agent. Owens' agent, David Joseph, missed the transaction deadline, and the 49ers -- believing the wideout still was their player -- shipped him to the Baltimore Ravens for a second-round draft pick. Meanwhile, Owens signed a lucrative contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gene Upshaw, then the NFLPA's executive director, stepped in to help sort out the mess, paving the way to a complex three-way trade that ultimately sent Owens to Philly. The league hasn't expressed any plans to help Denver or Dumervil, but the NFLPA might choose otherwise.

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NFL.com's Albert Breer points out the timing of Dumervil's case makes this tricky.

"If Elvis waits, his market could dry up," Breer tweeted Saturday, noting that if the Broncos sit around for someone to mediate the debacle, they risk losing out on other available defensive ends.

Dumervil and the Broncos would prefer to settle on the one-year, $8 million deal they agreed to Friday, but that's off the table (thank you, Mr. Fax Machine). It's a situation that could use a guiding hand from the NFLPA or the league, but neither the Broncos nor Dumervil have the luxury of time as free agency barrels forward.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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