Last night the NFL played the last meaningful game for seven months, and that means that the off season will begin to get into full swing soon. In just about two weeks the NFL world will convene in Indianapolis, Indiana for the annual scouting combine, and the focus for the next few months will obviously be the NFL draft and free agency.
First, however, teams will need to decide what to do with their own pending free agents, whose contracts will expire on March 11 when the new league year is ushered in. The Colts are in the same situation.
Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star has spent some time looking at some of those pending free agents for the Colts, and his look at cornerback Vontae Davis was especially interesting. Holder examined the likelihood of Davis returning to Indianapolis actually happening:
"Davis tied a career-low in 2013 with one interception, but his value has never been measured in that manner. He's a cover man, plain and simple, the best the Colts have and one of the best in the NFL. The Colts relied on his abilities on a regular basis, never hesitating to pair him, often without help, against the best receivers in the NFL (Damaryius Thomas, Mike Wallace and Andre Johnson to name a few). If the Colts fail to agree to terms with Davis, they'll be faced with the prospect of having to replace him with a player who might not be as good and could be less invested in the team. Davis, meanwhile, has grown quite fond of the Colts' players and coaches after an unmemorable experience with the Dolphins his first three seasons. He is adamant that he wishes to stay in Indy.
"The feelings appear mutual. General manager Ryan Grigson has made it clear re-signing Davis is a priority. Look for the sides to work diligently toward a deal in the coming weeks. But nothing is ever done until it's done. Davis' deal, whether here or elsewhere, figures to be much larger than the one the Colts gave cornerback Greg Toler: four years, $14.25 million."
To clarify his thoughts even further, Holder took to twitter:
You can probably tell from blog I just linked, but my sense is Colts will do their best to keep Vontae Davis. Too important to their scheme— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) February 3, 2014
No free agent is ever a lock to re-sign, but if the Colts had to pick one guy they had to have, I think it's him. Plus, he likes it here.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) February 3, 2014
Yes. And that's very possible here RT @DaveRalla: @HolderStephe Can a team resign or negotiate w it's own players before March 11th ?— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) February 3, 2014
If indeed Holder's assessment of the Colts and Davis both wanting to reach a new deal is correct, it comes as no surprise. Davis had a few rough spots this past season but all in all he played very well and it was clear he had a much, much higher ceiling than any other corner the Colts had. The sense is that he has the talent to be an elite-level corner, and he was just that early in the year for the Colts. Ryan Grigson gave up a second round pick in the 2013 draft to get Davis from the Dolphins prior to the 2012 season, and that trade has turned out very well for the Colts. Now, Davis's rookie deal is up and the Colts must choose whether to re-sign him or let him walk.
The smart choice would be to re-sign him. And I get the very strong feeling that Ryan Grigson definitely agrees. Holder says that Davis likes it in Indianapolis and would have mutual interest to return. That leaves it up to the two sides to reach a deal. If they don't they will be left with a secondary that has major, major questions and is without it's most talented player from the previous year. It would mean that Greg Toler would assume the number one corner spot (unless another move is made) and that Darius Butler would become the number two corner. LaRon Landry would still be at safety and there is uncertainty at the other spot as Antoine Bethea is a free agent.
Davis will get paid a significant contract. He will probably be overpaid a bit - but anybody on the free agent market worth having is overpaid at least to some degree. I get the sense that Vontae Davis is far and away the number one priority to re-sign for the Colts, as he should be, and it looks like that might happen, given Stephen Holder saying that there appears to be mutual interest.