The Bills made their first major roster move on Monday, signing veteran free-agent cornerback Vontae Davis to a one-year deal. The deal has $3.5 million of guaranteed money, with $3 million more available in performance-based incentives. Davis began the offseason with an informal tour across the league, visiting four other teams before agreeing to join Bills Mafia.
The signing of Davis certainly indicates the direction Bills brass intends to go this offseason. Davis’ roster spot almost surely signifies the end of E.J. Gaines’ time in Buffalo, as the team can now invest available cap space at other positions that are more pressing concerns. Additionally, Davis’ skillset seems to align with Gaines’, as he is not typically used in zone coverage and is better served as a ballhawk, man-to-man coverage specialist. Davis is a home-run hitting corner, an all-effort, aggressive corner willing to risk being burned for a big gain with the hopes of breaking up or intercepting a quick dart from opposing quarterbacks. With this approach comes a heavy reliance on safety help: expect to see Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer flagging Davis’ side of the field throughout the season. In sum, Davis’ presence on the right side of the field would allow White to remain on the left side of the field and keep Leonard Johnson as the primary nickel corner.
Davis, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who has intercepted 22 passes for the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts, was released by the Colts in November for seeking medical advice from doctors not affiliated with the team. Davis ultimately elected to have surgery that ended his season, but the Colts cut him in a move they claimed was non-injury related. Davis has made numerous public claims expressing his displeasure with how the situation transpired. It was important for Bills GM Brandon Beane to clarify that Davis’ head was in the right place, and that the 29-year old legitimized his side of the story and showed his desire to be an asset to a locker room rather than an ornery distraction.
Now, Davis returns to the AFC East after his Dolphins tenure, and hopes to reestablish himself as one of the top corners in the game. It will be interesting to see what Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier dials up with his new, low-risk, high-reward chess piece.