Anatomy of a trade: Vontae Davis’ departure on ‘Hard Knocks’

Doug Farrar

The trade of former Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2013 second-round pick and a conditional late-round pick started raising bad feelings among the Dolphins' players soon after it happened. One player, speaking to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on the condition of anonymity, said that the trade was endemic of a talent drain that had been going on for a while.

"What in the world are we doing? No way are we better without Vontae," the anonymous receiver told Kelly. "We're supposed to be getting better and with every decision we keep getting worse. We need to see something positive happen."

That criticism became more public when one reporter asked running back Reggie Bush for his opinion on the trade.

"It's tough, obviously. It's tough," Bush said. At that point, one Dolphins publicist called across the room for the interview to end. Dolphins PR director Harvey Greene told Pro Football Talk that the move was based on scheduling, and Bush's preference to do media just once a week. I know Greene and am inclined to believe him, and the Dolphins didn't try to squelch other player takes on the trade.

Linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was also critical of the decision to release receiver Chad Johnson after Johnson's domestic abuse arrest, had more to say.

"I'll leave that up to you all," Dansby told the media. "I don't know what the situation was or what occurred to cause the trade. He's a great player, one of the best corners in the game. I'm not sure about the direction of the team. That's not my place. My place is to play hard and be the leader of men."

Even Richard Marshall, who had essentially replaced Davis at starting outside cornerback, was shocked. "None of us saw this coming," he said. "I don't know how to take it."

What was interesting was that the entire trade process was shown on the penultimate episode of "Hard Knocks." Davis had been a disappointment through training camp -- his conditioning and attitude had been called into question by various coaches -- and when general manager Jeff Ireland received a text from the Colts asking about a trade, that got the ball rolling. HBO showed Ireland texting as the NFL Network was speculating about Colts owner Jim Irsay's tweets regarding a potential blockbuster trade. The Colts started by offering fifth- and sixth-round picks, upped it to a third-round pick, and settled on a second.

Head coach Joe Philbin didn't seem too broken up about losing the inconsistent Davis, whose awareness on the field became a real issue.

"He's a good kid, but I wonder if we're ever going to get him to where we would like him to be," Philbin said.

At final negotiations, Ireland is seen telling a Colts executive, "I've been honest with you this whole time. It has to be something that's gonna blow me away. You called me."

Eventually, Ireland got what he wanted -- then, it was time to tell Davis.

"The rumor is true," Ireland told Davis in Ireland's office. "We just traded you. We traded you to the Indianapolis Colts, all right? So, you OK?"

"I'm gonna call my grandma," Davis said.

"This hasn't hit the papers or anything like that," Ireland said. "Why don't we do a little business first, before you call grandma? There's a little bit of urgency because there's a storm coming and they want to get you on a plane pretty quickly."

Ireland then tried to give Davis advice about his future. "You've been up and down. You've got to get it to where that's just a small little wane. The consistency level is more consistent. Before you become a great, which I think you have the ability to be, these waves have got to be a lot smaller. That's probably why you're being traded -- I'm just being transparent with you. I want you to know why it hasn't worked for us here. I think the world of you as a person, and I appreciate you busting your ass here as a Miami Dolphin these last three years, and I know you'll do well."

Davis then asked Ireland who he was being traded for. "A couple picks," Ireland said. Ireland then gave Davis a pep talk as he was walking out the door, which seemed a little awkward -- that was the first time I started wondering if Ireland was playing to the cameras.

As is always the case when a player leaves the building, the "Hard Knocks" guys did the "removing the stuff from the locker" montage, and Davis was off to Indy.

Whether you like the way the trade was handled or not, this segment showed the value of the "Hard Knocks" series. That kind of inside look at a team's process is a great addition to the knowledge base of every hardcore football fan.