And to think that at one point, NFL Films thought the Miami Dolphins might be a boring team for the "Hard Knocks" series. To date, that's been anything but the case. Chad Johnson's Aug. 11 domestic violence arrest and subsequent release from the team was the first "highlight," and now, there's the trade of cornerback Vontae Davis to the Indianapolis Colts. In return for the 2009 first-round draft pick out of Illinois, the Dolphins will receive a 2013 second-round pick and a conditional late-round selection.
"Bottom line with this move today is we got better as a football team," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. "That is always the goal each day for this organization. From the first time he stepped on the field at Illinois as a freshman or in the National Football League as a rookie, you knew Vontae was a special talent. Now he has a chance under coach [Chuck] Pagano and this coaching staff to reach not only his potential as a football player, but as a person as well. That is our collective goal moving forward."
Davis, the brother of San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, has proven to be equally talented and frustrating through his NFL career. Under a new head coach in Joe Philbin in 2012, Davis was moved to nickel cornerback as the Dolphins seemed to prefer Richard Marshall as the team's starter. And his go-rounds with Carolina's Steve Smith in the Dolphins' 23-17 loss to the Panthers on Aug. 17 didn't help. From the Sports Xchange:
Davis and Smith have had issues with one another since a regular-season game in 2009, and their beef carried over to Friday night's game. The two had numerous shoving matches in the first half, and Davis was called for a personal foul for one of their tussles, which ended with Davis having his helmet ripped off. Davis, who works as the first-team boundary cornerback in the nickel package, was replaced by Nolan Carroll in the second quarter. But when Smith was pulled out the game he returned to his role on Miami's second-team defense. This year Davis, a 2009 first-round pick who has started 36 games, finds himself on the outside looking in at the starting unit.
Davis was frequently in former head coach Tony Sparano's doghouse, and his conditioning issues through the first three episodes of this year's "Hard Knocks" series were a bit of a public embarrassment.
Colts owner Jim Irsay, who had been tweeting up a storm in recent days regarding a possible secret trade, addressed critics of the deal in no uncertain terms.
"If u don't like it buy ur own team and try to make the playoffs 9 seasons n a row n put together 7 straight 12 win seasons n a row as Owner!" he ranted on Twitter. "U can do all your judgmental chirpin' U want, it's not about subjective opinions...it what you DO n what your track record shows! CHECKMATE!"
For the record, the Colts went 2-14 in 2011, and selected Andrew Luck as the first overall pick as a result of their epic horribleness. Without the injured Peyton Manning, the Colts proved to be quite the house of cards. That's improving now, and if Davis can keep his head on straight, it's a great get for a Colts defense that needs help in the back seven. Otherwise, it's a disaster for the new coaching staff.
The Dolphins, in a bit of a talent drain at this point, have at least one unhappy guy on the roster. "What in the world are we doing? No way are we better without Vontae," one Dolphins receiver told Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on the condition of anonymity. "We're supposed to be getting better and with every decision we keep getting worse. We need to see something positive happen."
Davis, who amassed nine interceptions, one sack and 148 tackles in Miami, will earn $957,500 in base salary this season and $1,136,250 in 2013. The Colts will likely put him on the other side of Jerraud Powers in their secondary as Pagano tries to find the right pieces for a new hybrid defensive scheme. Nolan Carroll is projected to replace Davis on the Dolphins' depth chart. Sean Smith and Richard Marshall are the estimated starters.