Twitter is amusing. Amusing in the sense that in the span of one hour, I got to witness first-hand, the 5 stages of grief and loss over a rumor that may or may not be true. According to a report from Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Vontae Davis is likely to sign with a team other than the Indianapolis Colts come Tuesday when the League New Year begins.
At first, Colts fans were hesitant to believe the report claiming it as a smoke-screen set up by Davis’ agent, which very well could be the case. Denial.
I saw fans criticizing General Manager Ryan Grigson for not locking up the starting corner and fans condemning Davis for being a “greedy money grabber”. Anger.
Fans were saying that they wouldn’t mind overpaying for a talent like Davis, tweeting to owner Jim Irsay to sign him no matter the cost. Bargaining.
Fans spiraled into sadness wishing for a sense of stability for the team and conceded the fact that the Colts would be “doomed to bad corner play just like the Polian era”. Depression.
Eventually fans realized that there may be other options to keep the Colts in Super Bowl Contention. Acceptance.
That’s the stage I want to focus on. Let’s start by realizing that until 4:00 P.M. EST on March 11th, Davis cannot sign with any team other than the Colts so the Colts still have time to get Vontae to change his mind if he is, indeed, leaning toward going elsewhere. If Davis happens to sign a long term contract with Indianapolis, I will be one of the first to emit a sigh of relief, but it’s important to keep an open mind to all of the other opportunities that will present themselves if the Colts’ brass fails to get the deal done. With around $34 million in cap space, the Colts have a lot of wiggle room to fill their secondary with talent.
There are options, both in free agency, and in the draft that the Colts can turn to in order to take the Colts’ secondary in a new direction. Alterraun Verner is a top name on the market, but played in a predominately zone scheme with the Titans last season and some question his ability to be handle being left on an island with top receivers, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the ability to do so. Regardless, Verner will likely command a hefty price tag, similar to that of Davis and according to earlier reports, may already have his mind made up on where we will be signing minutes after free agency begins.
28 year old Aqib Talib earned a reputation as a force to be reckoned with at the corner position during his one year deal with the Patriots last year, most notably for his ability to shut down large tight ends, like Jimmy Graham, that may otherwise have been a matchup nightmare for a defense. Talib may be asking for a large price, but the Colts have the cap room to make a contract work and are willing to designate a large portion of it to a legitimate number one corner if contract negotiations with Vontae Davis were as serious as reported. The recently released Antonio Cromartie may not be what he once was, but he may still have a bit left in the tank for him to churn out a season or two of impressive performance. Another name to keep in mind is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Like Talib, DRC is also coming off a strong showing on a one year deal and could earn a large payday and a slot as a number one corner for a team.
That may be all to be found in terms of a true number one corner, but there are ways to address the position by committee. Some interesting players to look out for would be Walter Thurmond III and Brandon Browner, both previously of the Seahawks. Thurmond performed highly as a nickel corner and could be due for a promotion (not to mention a high pay raise) from a needy suitor. Browner is a proven number two option, though he may not get along so well with T.Y. Hilton after their spat this past season. Both Thurmond and Browner’s stock will be lowered due to their recent problems with the drug program, but could make for appealing targets once the higher tier corners find homes.
Chris Cook of the Minnesota Vikings is also intriguing. A classic case of underachieving is the downfall for this former 2nd round pick, but the defensive backs coach inside of Chuck Pagano may feel he can pull something out of him. Cook is a long, physical corner at 6’2″ and 212 lbs and has the physical skill set to develop his game to another level.
The latter of these options wouldn’t sit well with the majority of Colts fans, so some supplementary options could be found in the draft. This years draft class is deep in cornerbacks so talent should be available at all of the Colts draft choices. The Colts could look for a corner early such as Bradley Roby from Ohio State, Bashaud Breeland from Clemson, Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska, or E.J. Gaines from Missouri, or they could find talent in the later rounds with prospects like Aaron Colvin from Oklahoma, Nevin Lawson from Utah State, Terrance Mitchell from Oregon, or Phillip Gaines from Rice still on the board.br
This serves as a reminder that all is not lost when certain, high caliber players are not retained. We all remember the mass exodus of 2012. If the Colts can recover from that, we can recover from losing a cornerback.
UPDATE: Rumors are being tossed around that Darrelle Revis could be released by the Buccaneers if a trade partner is not found by 4 P.M. on Wednesday. If all else fails, Revis Island isn’t a bad backup plan, eh?