The Buffalo Bills are reportedly getting a head start on the free-agent open market. Whether the team will be buyers or simply window shoppers remains to be seen.
According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Bills are hosting cornerback Vontae Davis on a free-agent visit Thursday.
Former Colts’ CB Vontae Davis is taking his first free-agent visit today with the Buffalo Bills, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 15, 2018
Davis, 29, was released by the Indianapolis Colts in November after he elected to have season-ending groin surgery, apparently against the Colts' wishes. He is reportedly cleared and able to resume football activities.
Davis is a former first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2009 who has made 112 career starts with 395 tackles, 22 interceptions and 106 passes defensed. He has spent the past six years with the Colts, making the Pro Bowl in 2014 and 2015.
He played in just five games last season before having a falling out with the team over his injury, which originally occurred in the preseason. He missed the first three games of the regular season, then returned to start five games in October. The Colts left Davis home for a Nov. 5 game at Houston, though, with coach Chuck Pagano announcing that the decision was not injury related. Davis disputed that in an interview with the Indianapolis Star, saying he felt "disrespected" by Pagano's handling of the situation.
"I’ve been here six years,” he told the paper. “We’ve had similar situations where I played hurt. These things happen. And I never got confronted and (no one) said, ‘Your play has slipped.’ Nothing. I was playing at a level that was acceptable.
The Bills potentially have a big need at cornerback. That's because starter E.J. Gaines, nickel cornerback Leonard Johnson and veteran backup Shareece Wright are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March. Among them, Gaines is in line for a big raise after he had a strong season. Acquired as part of the trade that sent receiver Sammy Watkins to the Rams, Gaines, 25, started 11 games, finishing with 59 tackles, nine passes defensed, three forced fumbles and an interception. The Bills went 8-3 in games he started and 1-4 in games he missed.
One factor for the team that signs Davis to consider: Because he was released by the Colts, he does not factor into the compensatory draft pick formula. If Gaines were to depart, the expected size of his contract would likely put the Bills in line for draft-pick compensation in 2019, depending on their other moves in free agency.
Story topics: Vontae Davis