In the past week, we’ve seen some new faces coming in as well as a couple long-time Colts signing with other teams. Antoine Bethea is a 49er now. Donald Brown is a Charger. A Charger. But we also saw the team keep some of their own. After retaining Pat McAfee, DT Fili Moala, and several RFA players last week, the Colts agreed to new deals with kicker Adam Vinatieri, safety Sergio Brown, and, of course, cornerback Vontae Davis.
The Wild Ride of Free Agency with Vontae Davis
Davis’s impending contract – and possible departure – became the subject of much worry and debate among Colts fans. Is he essential to the Colts defense? Was he considering playing with his brother in San Francisco? Was he going to join the New Jersey Jets’ tabloid circus?
First, things sounded good. Then, there were reports by The Indianapolis Star that Davis and the Colts were not even close to a deal. Speculation about his leaving floated around, but not as much as the bloated $12 million per year contract he supposedly was seeking.
Next, there came that weird report that Vontae was close to signing a deal, just not with the Colts (but who, then? Thanks for nothing, Mike Florio). Later that day, we heard that the Jets (yikes) were in fact “going hard” after the Colts cornerback. Colts Nation became resigned (not re-signed) to losing the team’s mercurial top corner.
Things got even stranger when some people suggested the Colts could be in play to acquire Darrelle Revis either in a trade ($16 million per YEAR?!) or after the Bucs cut him.
In the end, however, Davis ended up right where he wanted to be, and thankfully not for $12 million per year. “I hate for it to be the business side,” Davis said in a conference call with the Indy media. “If there wasn’t a business side of football and it wasn’t about business, I would still choose to be back with the Colts. So that just says a lot about how strong the organization is. My teammates are like brothers. It’s a brotherhood. When you go to the Colts, it’s something that you hold with you for the rest of your life.”
Other teams were interested, but Davis, like Reggie Wayne two years ago, didn’t want to name any of them (most players don’t).
Unlike Wayne, this was Davis’s first time as a free agent, which he said reminded him of his days leading up to college signing day. “It was like high school, almost, when you have to pick which college you want to go to,” he said. “It was kind of different for me. I’m excited now to be with the Colts. I think God has a plan for, not just me, everybody. I think the Colts is a perfect situation for me.”
In the end, Davis, like many players, just went about his business and waited for that call from his agent. “Yeah, I stepped back,” he told a reporter. “I went to go work out. I didn’t finish working out until the afternoon, around 2 o’clock. I wasn’t really worried about the process of the deal being done. I was waiting to hear back from my agent. Once he brought a deal to the table that we figured was perfect for both parties, we accepted the deal.”
The news around Adam Vinatieri’s contract talks wasn’t nearly as dramatic. The rumor mills didn’t churn out stories of other teams clamoring to steal the veteran kicker from the Colts, although some people speculated that Indianapolis might go in a different direction (nothing worth linking there).
Vinatieri’s return was an important one for the Colts’ success nonetheless. He had no plans to go anywhere else and, at 41, didn’t seem to mind the team being aware of his intent. “They knew that there’s no other place that I wanted to be,” he told a reporter yesterday. “Assuming that they wanted me here, I knew it was something that could definitely get done.”
Vinatieri was also glad not to be starting over with a new team again after 18 years – 8 with the Colts. “I’m excited and extraordinarily happy that I can finish my career with just playing for two teams and at least 10 years on both and maybe more after that,” he said. “We’ll see about that but I wanted to be here and I’m happy they wanted me around. It took a little while but I think everybody wanted the same thing so I knew we could get it done.”
A guy who still can send a 54-yard field goal through the uprights at 41 years old ought to be able to play for as long as he wants, right? Vinatieri did say that his age as well as his stats factored into his deal. “Productivity speaks for itself,” he said. “You can see what my productivity, or what my percentages, or all that stuff is.”
However, at his age, things are a little different, contract wise. “You don’t sign a five-year deal. There’s less guarantees involved the older that you get. But I understand that.
“I know where I’m at. I realize that I’m 41 years old. But I also know in my heart and believe in my abilities and I know that I can play these two and possibly even more. I’m planning on having good years and helping our team win championships. Hopefully we can be holding the trophy about the end of this year.”
He’s a great kicker whether he’s 23 or 55. It’s good to have him back.
Davis on Antoine Bethea’s departure in free agency: “Antoine, he’s a guy that’s accountable. I learned a lot from him, coming into Indy. He’s a professional. Everyday he comes in to work. He taught me a lot. A guy like that is not easy to replace. (Ryan) Grigson and Coach (Chuck) Pagano have been in this game for a long time. I’m pretty sure they’ll figure it out.”
Vinatieri telling a reporter about his role with so many younger players around him: “It’s funny because, like you said, there’s different ages of guys on our team and as an older guy, decades older than some of the guys, you don’t totally relate in the sense of you’re not on the same level. I’ve got kids that are closer to the new guys coming in than they are to my age. But, in saying that, we’re kind of at different phases of your life as far as some of that stuff is involved. But the fun thing is they look up to me kind of as that big brother or even father figure. I’ve got a lot of experiences over the past 18 years that I can help some of these guys with. It’s funny, when playoffs roll around they’re asking me questions about playoffs. They obviously know and being a player rep as well that if they’ve got questions about 401K’s, IR, and things like that, I’m the first person that they run to because I’ve been around long enough I know some of the answers and if I don’t, I can definitely find the right avenue to get those answers for them. I kind of embrace that role as big brother or even father figure, if you want to say that. But I enjoy it. It’s amazing that even over the last 18 years the game has changed. I think it’s different. I think every decade it changes a little bit. I’m excited to be a part of this team and of how it’s maturing and watching some of these young guys grow. I guess I look at it as the leadership role of being the veteran guy on the team and/or the veteran guy in the league, it’s a fun role for me.”
Davis on the time leading up to re-signing with the Colts: “I wasn’t trying to focus on it. This morning, I went to work out. I tried to have a normal day and let everything take care of itself. My agent informed me that the Colts came in and had an offer that we accepted. In reality, I didn’t want to leave the Colts. I wanted to be with the Colts. I had to listen to other teams but I wanted to get back. I made it work to get back with the Colts.”
All quotes (except for the one from twitter) are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.