Vontae Davis

Former CB Vontae Davis Dies At 35

Vontae Davis, who played 10 NFL seasons as a cornerback, has died. He was 35. Davis was found at a Southwest Ranches, Florida, residence, according to Julian Quintana of 7News.

Personnel from the Broward County Medical Examiners Office, along with Davie Police, were at the scene Monday. No foul play is believed to have been involved, according to police, though a death investigation is underway, 7News reports. The Southwest Ranches home is owned by Davis’ grandmother.

Jim Irsay has confirmed Davis’ death, calling the former Colts cornerback a “great guy, teammate and player.” The younger brother of former tight end Vernon Davis, Vontae played for the Dolphins, Colts and Bills from 2009-18. He spent most of his time in Miami and Indianapolis, becoming a Pro Bowler after being traded to the Colts.

The Dolphins used a first-round pick on Davis in 2009, selecting him 25th overall out of Illinois. Entering the NFL four years after his brother, Vontae played three seasons in Miami. He started 36 games for the Dolphins but ended up a Colt during training camp in 2012. Joe Philbin‘s first Dolphins season produced a memorable Hard Knocks segment in which Davis trade negotiations unfolded. The Colts ended up acquiring the talented corner for a 2013 second-round pick and a conditional selection that did not end up conveying.

The Colts did not extend Davis immediately, waiting until the 2014 free agency period to re-sign him. That decision paid off. Davis re-signed on a four-year, $36MM deal and continued his run as a starter with the team. Indianapolis deployed Davis as a starter in 76 games, never using him as a backup. This stretch led to Pro Bowl invites in 2014 and 2015.

Davis was a key starter during the Colts’ early Andrew Luck years, helping the team win three playoff games — including a 28-point comeback over the Chiefs in the 2013 wild-card round. Davis made a big impact in the 2014 playoffs, breaking up seven passes as the Colts toppled the Bengals and Broncos en route to the AFC championship game. That wrapped a memorable season for the accomplished CB. Pro Football Focus viewed Davis as a dominant corner in 2014, ranking him first overall at the position that year. His 93.3 grade doubles as the best cornerback season the advanced metrics website has graded in its existence, which spans back to the mid-2000s. Davis intercepted four passes that year and broke up 18.

Signing with the Bills in 2018, Davis memorably retired at halftime of his first game with Buffalo. He told his position coach he was done just before the half in the Bills’ ’18 opener. That abruptly concluded a career that included 22 interceptions, 97 pass breakups and 113 starts.

East Notes: Flowers, Gordon, V. Davis

The Giants have made the decision to bench embattled right tackle Ereck Flowers, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport notes that New York has been preparing Chad Wheeler all week, and that Wheeler will start in Flowers’ place.

Of course, Big Blue’s offensive line was a major source of concern this offseason — even though the team handed a hefty free agent contract to former Patriots LT Nate Solder — and Flowers’ track record of underperformance was a big reason for that. But the Giants do not just give up on first-round picks, so they shifted Flowers from left tackle to right tackle and gave him the bulk of the first-team reps. The team, however, is 0-2, and Flowers has not fared any better on the right side of the line than he did on the left. Although Flowers is the only reserve tackle on the roster, which means he will still be active on game days, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes that this move almost guarantees that Flowers will not be back with the team in 2019 (which was largely a foregone conclusion anyway).

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • Although the Browns were certainly upset about the hamstring injury that new Patriots receiver Josh Gordon suffered while filming a promotional video and the circumstances surrounding that video, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com says the real reason for Cleveland’s decision to ship Gordon to New England is that the Browns felt Gordon was still struggling to stay sober and that they had done all they could for him. Plus, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report notes that Gordon missed and/or was late to several team meetings (Twitter link). However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sport tweets that Gordon has made a strong first impression with Patriots coaches and could make a real contribution for the team against the Lions tonight (although Gordon’s hamstring could prevent him from playing).
  • Former Patriot and current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com) believes that Gordon will succeed with the Patriots because of the stability and climate that New England can offer. However, if Gordon cannot make it in New England, Harrison thinks that his NFL career is probably over. It is certainly difficult to argue with that assessment.
  • The Bills are expected to go after the majority of Vontae Davis‘ $1.5MM signing bonus, per Rapoport. Buffalo may argue that, since Davis retired mid-game last week, he is entitled to only 1/17, instead of 2/17, of the bonus, and if the team does go that route, Davis may walk away with less than $700K from a 2018 contract that could have paid him up to $5MM. After all, the remainder of his $2.25MM salary voided when he was placed on the reserve/left squad list, and he earned only a small portion of his per-game roster bonuses. Nonetheless, he did earn more than $35MM during his career, so he might not care too much.
  • Some members of the Cowboys‘ front office would like to resume Earl Thomas trade talks, but Dallas is currently seen as a longshot to land the Seahawks’ star safety.
  • We learned earlier today that the Patriots nearly traded Rob Gronkowski  to the Lions this offseason.

Extra Points: Davis, Vea, Pats, Lamp, Colts

Prior to Vontae Davis‘ now-infamous halftime retirement, the 10-year NFL veteran cornerback told Bills defensive backs coach John Butler, “I’m done” while he was in uniform late in the first half. This one-sided conversation, per Davis (via The Undefeated’s Domonique Foxworth), occurred in the final minute of the half. Lafayette Pitts replaced Davis in the game and ended up having to play a larger role after halftime once Davis did not return for the second half.

I didn’t expect them to understand,” Davis said, via Foxworth, of his teammates’ reaction to his abrupt NFL exit. “That moment was shocking to me as well. … My intention was not to hurt my teammates. In that moment, my intuition was telling me I don’t belong on that field anymore.”

The Bills received a roster exemption after the 30-year-old defender’s retirement, and they placed Davis on the reserve/left squad list, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. While Davis sounds about as far away from a player who’d attempt a comeback, his placement on this list would not allow it — with the Bills or another team — this season.

Shifting back to some active NFLers, here’s what’s new going into Week 3:

  • Jack Conklin‘s 2018 debut is unlikely to take place Sunday, Titans insider Paul Kuharsky tweets. In the final part of his recovery process from a torn ACL sustained in January, Conklin appears likelier to suit up in Week 4 against the Eagles than Sunday against the Jaguars. The Titans didn’t have Conklin nor Taylor Lewan in Week 2, but Tennessee’s left tackle has been cleared to return from a concussion he sustained in the season opener. Swing tackle Dennis Kelly, however, remains out. An illness forced Kelly to be hospitalized before last weekend’s game.
  • Another AFC South tackle won’t play Sunday, but Anthony Castonzo‘s second hamstring setback in as many months has not caused the Colts to consider placing him on IR. Indianapolis’ left tackle remains week-to-week in his recovery, Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer, on Twitter). Were Castonzo to land on IR, he would not be able to return for eight weeks.
  • Three Patriots deemed unlikely to play will, in fact, sit out New England’s Week 3 game in Detroit. The Patriots announced Trey Flowers, Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe are out against the Lions. The team did not declare Marcus Cannon or Josh Gordon out. Cannon returned to practice this week and made progress, pointing to the right tackle’s return.
  • Vita Vea‘s calf strain will delay his debut for another week. The Buccaneers‘ first-round pick is out for Monday night’s Steelers game, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Vea did practice on Saturday, doing so for the first time in a month, so the defensive tackle’s NFL debut appears imminent.
  • The Chargers continue to bring Forrest Lamp along slowly. The 2017 second-round pick has not yet debuted, and Anthony Lynn said (via Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times) Lamp isn’t ready for action yet. “It’s just that Forrest was an athletic guard,” Lynn said. “He moved a lot and we pulled him in space. He doesn’t feel that speed yet. He feels like he’s a step behind.” Lamp tore an ACL a few days into his rookie training camp and underwent an arthroscopic procedure in May. The Bolts are already down Joe Barksdale for another week. They’ve been playing guard-tackle Michael Schofield in Lamp’s spot, and Sam Tevi started in Barksdale’s right tackle position last week in Buffalo.

Bills Notes: Allen, McCoy, Staff, CBs

Despite the quarterback battle between Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen being close during the preseason, the Bills did not want their No. 7 overall pick to have to play so soon. They hoped Peterman would keep the job “for a while” while Allen learned, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. However, after Peterman’s 0.0 passer rating against the Ravens, little debate ensued about making the move to the rookie for Week 2.

You wish you had more to go on than just the three starts, and it might be different if this was a veteran with a five-year body of work,” a Bills source told La Canfora, recalling Peterman’s five-interception start against the Chargers last season. “But you don’t have anything else to go on, and after it happens a second time you can’t just write it off as an anomaly.”

Allen is now the starter, but La Canfora reports the Bills remain on the lookout for quarterbacks — via the waiver wire and on other teams’ depth charts. However, as for their QB1 job, it’s Allen’s. Sean McDermott confirmed as much Monday (via Joe Buscaglia of WKBW, on Twitter). Citing the Wyoming product’s intellect, the Bills did not envision their draft prize sitting an entire season like some expected, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). In his first start, a loss to the Chargers, Allen completed 18 of 33 passes for 245 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Here’s the latest from Buffalo:

  • Allen may not have LeSean McCoy available to take handoffs in Week 3. The former All-Pro running back cracked rib cartilage against the Chargers, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, adding McCoy will be questionable to face Vikings. Worries existed this injury indeed was cracked ribs, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), who adds this injury won’t be classified as a fracture. Chris Ivory resides as Buffalo’s backup running back.
  • McDermott took over play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier mid-game, he confirmed after the Bills’ loss to the Chargers. “I just thought we needed a spark and that’s my background,” McDermott said. Frazier said during his tenure he and McDermott have worked collaboratively, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Vontae Davis‘ mid-game retirement obviously caught the Bills by surprise, and it’s final. McDermott will not be reaching out to the cornerback, who signed with the Bills this offseason. “I have not been in touch with Vontae today,” McDermott said (via Buscaglia, on Twitter). “His actions were loud and clear. My focus is on my team right now.”
  • Despite the 30-year-old corner retiring, the Bills received a roster exemption for Davis, Rapoport tweets. It’s a left-squad designation, per NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link).
  • Phillip Gaines will now be counted on to start opposite Tre’Davious White, but he’s encountered some injury trouble. Gaines dislocated one of his elbows, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. That may not stop him from playing in Week 3, but it’s a concern at this point, per Rodak. After a shaky stay with the Chiefs, Gaines joined Davis in signing with the Bills this offseason. The Bills have fourth-round rookie Taron Johnson and third-year player Lafayette Pitts on their roster. With Davis gone and Gaines injured, Buffalo has three available corners at this moment.

CB Vontae Davis Retires

A bizarre situation has unfolded in Buffalo as cornerback Vontae Davis has decided to retire. Davis reportedly pulled himself out of the game at halftime of the Bills’ loss to the Chargers and didn’t return to the game. He then released a statement announcing his retirement. You can read his full statement here.

While he said this isn’t how he “pictured retiring from the NFL” he said he had to make the decision because he was no longer physically capable of it. According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN (Twitter link)., Davis changed into street clothes and left the stadium at halftime.

It’s a situation pretty much without precedent in the NFL. Davis’ teammate Lorenzo Alexander called it “completely disrespectful” and said he’d never seen anything like it. It’s another rough headline for a Bills situation that has been disastrous thus far. They’ve lost both their games by multiple scores and had to bench their starting quarterback, Nathan Peterman, after just one game.

The Bills signed Davis back in February and reportedly gave him $3.5MM guaranteed. They’ll almost certainly look to recover most of that money and should be successful. If this is really the end for Davis, he’ll finish his ten-year NFL career with 22 interceptions and 106 passes defended. The 2009 first round pick was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Colts.

Extra Points: Bears, Fuller, Seahawks

No surprise here, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune hears that the Bears are unlikely to use the franchise tag on Kyle Fuller. Multiple sources tell Biggs that they do not expect the franchise tag to be employed, though he is less certain about whether the transition tag could be in play. It also seems unlikely that Fuller would sign a multi-year contract with the Bears before free agency opens, but there is interest on both sides in moving forward together.

Here’s more from around the NFL on a very busy Monday:

  • The Seahawks had open ears at the draft combine last week, sources tell Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Among those drawing interest include defensive tackle Michael Bennett and safety Earl Thomas, two players that have been the subject of trade speculation in recent weeks. Over the weekend, it was reported that the Falcons have discussed a Bennett deal with Seattle. Cornerback Richard Sherman, who has a $13.2MM cap charge in 2018, is also a trade candidate.
  • The Panthers, Jaguars, and Dolphins are heavily interested in free agent quarterback market, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (on Twitter) hears. The Panthers obviously have a starter in Cam Newton, but they are seeking a quality backup because Newton tends to take a lot of hits. The Jaguars and Dolphins have starters in Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill, respectively, but both clubs want veteran backups that can push them. The Dolphins are also exploring the idea of drafting a QB at No. 11 overall.
  • Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has been the subject of tremendous debate in football circles, particularly due to questions about his ability to play QB at the next level. He may have another problem. Jackson did not do well in interviews and white-board work at the combine, Volin hears (Twitter link) and his decision to go without an agent may be the culprit.
  • The Bills‘ one-year contract with cornerback Vontae Davis includes an unusual wrinkle, as noted by Volin (on Twitter). Davis is slated to receive a roster bonus of nearly $47K for each game he spends on the 46-man active roster. Meanwhile, he’ll receive a lesser bonus of almost $16K per game that he spends on the 53-man roster. It’s unique for a contract to have separate bonuses for appearing on the 53 and the 46 each week, but it’s a creative structure for Buffalo given Davis’ injury history. One has to wonder if other teams could follow a similar blueprint this offseason when signing veterans with health concerns.

Details On Vontae Davis’ Deal With Bills

On Monday, the Bills agreed to sign Vontae Davis to a one-year contract. We now know the terms of the deal, and it appears to be a favorable one for the cornerback. Vontae Davis (vertical)

The one-year deal comes with a $5MM base salary and $3.5MM of that sum is guaranteed, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. With incentives, Davis can max out the value of the deal at $8MM.

Details on Davis’ potential bonuses have not surfaced yet, but it’s notable that he’ll have an opportunity to nearly match the average annual value of his previous four-year, $36MM contract with the Colts. Even before considering the incentives, it’s a solid payday for a player who has not performed at a high level over the last two seasons.

The Bills are taking a bit of a gamble with Davis, but they believe that he has more quality football in the tank. The value of the deal may also give some insight into their plans regarding E.J. Gaines. With a base of $5MM, the Bills probably intend to start Davis at cornerback opposite rising sophomore Tre’Davious White. Gaines edges Davis in both talent and youth, but he is in line for a big payday as one of the best free agent CBs on the board. The Bills have only $29.5MM in cap space and much of that will be dedicated to filling other needs as well as signing their rookie class, so they are taking an economical approach over committing to Gaines on a long-term deal.

Last season, Gaines ranked as Pro Football Focus’ No. 13 ranked cornerback. Davis, meanwhile, ranked near the bottom in 2016 and would have done the same in 2017 if he logged enough snaps to qualify.

Bills To Sign Vontae Davis

Vontae Davis has found a home. The free agent cornerback is signing a one-year deal with the Bills, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). Davis himself has seemingly confirmed the news on his own Twitter account as well. Vontae Davis (vertical)

For most of the league’s players, free agency does not kick off until March 14. However, Davis was in a unique position since the Colts released him during the 2017 season. Typically, the available players in February are replacement level types. Davis, meanwhile, was able to shop himself as soon as he received medical clearance from doctors a couple of weeks ago.

No one can accuse Davis of being hasty about his free agent choice. In recent weeks, the veteran met with the 49ersBrownsBillsRaiders, and Dolphins before settling on Buffalo. His stated goal was to sign with a team before the start of free agency and he accomplished that with more than two weeks to spare.

The terms of the deal are not yet known and we also don’t know exactly what caliber of player the Bills are getting in the 29-year-old (30 in May). The former first-round pick looked the part of a high-end starter as he earned Pro Bowl nods in 2014 and 2015. However, his performance declined in 2016 and a core injury slowed him down tremendously last season, leading to his November release.

In 2014, Davis earned a stellar 95.1 overall score from Pro Football Focus. In the following year, he turned in a strong 81.9 mark, which still painted him as an above-average starter. However, he was one of the ten worst qualified corners in the league in 2016, per PFF, and wasn’t ranked much better at the time of his release in ’17.

If healthy, Davis could prove to be a valuable depth piece for Buffalo. He could be asked to provide even more if the team is unable to re-sign pending free agent E.J. Gaines.

Dolphins Meet With CB Vontae Davis

Where in the world is free agent Vontae Davis? On Friday, the cornerback continued his travels by visiting with the Dolphins in Miami, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Vontae Davis (vertical)

In the last week or so, Davis has met with the 49ersBrownsBills, and Raiders. He hopes to sign with a team before free agency opens on March 14, but not before doing his homework on several interested clubs.

Davis is in a unique position as an accomplished veteran who is free to sign with teams before most are eligible for the open market. That’s because the veteran was released by the Colts in November and did not return to the field last season. Surgery for a core injury held Davis back last season, but he recently gained medical clearance from doctors.

The Dolphins have two cornerbacks – Walt Aikens and Alterraun Verner – slated for unrestricted free agency next month. Safeties Nate Allen and Michael Thomas are also scheduled to hit the open market. As it stands, the team is slated to start Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley at cornerback with T.J. McDonald and Reshad Jones at safety. In theory, Davis could bump Tankersley from the CB2 slot after the rookie earned a dismal 53.8 overall score from Pro Football Focus, placing him as the No. 93 ranked CB out of 121 qualified players last year.

Vontae Davis Hopes To Sign Before Free Agency Opens

Free agent cornerback Vontae Davis wants to sign with a new team before the unrestricted free agent period begins on March 14, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link).Vontae Davis (vertical)

Because he was released during the 2017 campaign, Davis is not considered an unrestricted free agent. Instead, he’s a “street’ free agent, which means he’s free to sign with any club at any time. Theoretically, that designation could give Davis a leg up, as he’s not currently competing with an impressive crop of UFA corners that includes Trumaine Johnson and Malcolm Butler.

Davis confirmed that he has thus far met with four clubs: the Bills, Browns, 49ers, and — most recently — Raiders. All four teams are in great need of defensive back help, and Davis could be a cheaper option than the cornerbacks who are set to hit the open market next month. Davis, 29, recently gained medical clearance after dealing with a core injury in 2017, so interested parties have confidence that he’s now healthy.

While Davis struggled with ineffectiveness and injury last year, he was an extremely competent cornerback as recently as 2016, when he ranked 11th in Football Outsiders’ success rate. A former first-round pick, Davis earned Pro Bowl nods in both 2014 and 2015.