Matt Elam is considered one of the best football players to come out of Palm Beach County, but a weekend arrest may have put his professional career in jeopardy.
The former Dwyer High football standout who starred at the University of Florida before beginning his NFL career was arrested on felony drug charges Saturday night in Miami Beach.
According to an arrest report, Elam’s erratic and dangerous driving in a residential area near South Beach caught the attention of undercover police detectives. They attempted to pull over Elam’s 2014 Range Rover, but he sped off before stopping after a few blocks, the report said.
When detectives approached, they noticed “a big cloud of smoke” coming from the vehicle and a strong odor of marijuana.
During a search of the vehicle, a Gucci bag was found with Elam’s identification and more than four ounces of marijuana. Six oxycodone pills and $947 were inside a headphone pouch, the report said.
Two other men were arrested with Elam, 25, including one who allegedly had a loaded weapon in his possession.
Elam is facing charges of possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance, and reckless driving. He was being held on $15,500 bail as of Monday afternoon.
Miami Beach undercover detectives were running a surveillance operation around the area of 23rd Street and Pinetree Drive when they noticed the Range Rover cutting in and out of lanes at a high rate of speed despite the 25 mph speed limit. At one point, Elam cut his SUV in front of the detectives’ vehicle, nearly causing a crash.
Elam then moved into the parking lane on the right side of the road “creating his own lane,” the report said.
The arrest could have a major impact on Elam’s NFL career.
The 32nd overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Baltimore Ravens, Elam was tabbed to replace All-Pro safety Ed Reed in the team’s defensive backfield.
But Elam turned out to be a huge disappointment. He was unable to keep his starting job and likely ends his Ravens’ career with as many interceptions (one) as NFL-imposed suspensions. Elam was banned for one game during the 2015 season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
An online ESPN story posted Sunday called Elam “officially the worst first-round pick in team history.”
Elam was scheduled to become a free agent within two weeks. His market value figured to be on the low side before his arrest and may be non-existent now.
The Ravens left no question they are no longer interested in Elam after he was jailed.
“We are aware of the arrest of Matt Elam,” a Ravens spokesperson said Sunday. “Matt is not in our plans for the 2017 Ravens.”
At Dwyer, Elam was a U.S. Army All-American, the Gatorade Player of the Year and the only two-time winner of the Lou Groza Award for Most Outstanding High School Football Player. He helped lead Dwyer to its first state football title.
Elam played three seasons for the Gators, leaving following his junior campaign in 2012 to enter the NFL Draft. At Florida, Elam was twice charged with possession of alcohol by a minor and was placed on probation for six months after his second arrest in July 2011.
Abram Elam, Matt’s older brother and a former standout football and basketball player at Cardinal Newman High, was convicted of felony sexual battery in 2002 while attending Notre Dame and was expelled from school.
Tragedy has also haunted Elam’s siblings, three of whom have been murdered since 1987.
Matt and Abram’s older brother, Donald Runner, was fatally shot in 1987. Their sister, Christina Elam, was killed in 1999 and another older brother, Donald Elam Jr., was fatally shot in 2008.
In 1989, Donald Elam Jr. became the youngest person ever indicted for first-degree murder in Palm Beach County at age 14. He was later acquitted.