Vontae Davis flirted with a jump into the ranks of elite NFL cornerbacks last season. Now, the Colts are paying him like he's already there.
Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay announced on Twitter shortly after the open of free agency that Davis was staying put. Irsay handed him a four-year, $39 million deal that includes $20 million guaranteed. That's top-five money (for now) at the cornerback position. The contract matches what Green Bay forked over to keep its own No. 1 CB, Sam Shields, though Davis will receive an extra $7.5 million guaranteed compared to Shields' contract.
The Colts dealt a 2013 second-round pick to Miami to land Davis. The Dolphins drafted Boise State CB Jamar Taylor with the extra pick.
The fairly high cost of that trade may have pushed Indianapolis to get something done with Davis rather than lose him after a one-year investment. But aside from yet-unsigned cornerbacks Aqib Talib, Alterraun Verner and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, none of the free-agent options at the position rivaled Davis either. Davis graded out as Pro Football Focus' No. 3 CB last season, trailing Darrelle Revis and Brent Grimes. (Grimes received a four-year, $32 million contract from Miami last week.)
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Elsewhere on its defense, Indianapolis added lineman Arthur Jones. That coupled with the aggressive move to retain Davis offered the latest proof that the Colts are thinking Super Bowl right now. Clearly, the brief rebuilding phase between Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck is long gone.
The Colts are putting their faith in Davis to continue his forward momentum as part of that cause. After all, there was a reason the Dolphins were willing to trade him away, so there may be a little danger that Davis puts it on cruise control with a minimum of $20 million in his back pocket. The safer bet is that the Colts remain pleased with his performance.
As just mentioned, this was an expensive move that carries some risk. The CB market exploded early in free agency, though, so it's hard to imagine Indianapolis would have found a comparable talent for any less of a deal. The Colts know what they have in Davis and Davis thrived in their system.