Pagano puts Vontae Davis issue ‘to bed’ after releasing him from Colts
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Lest anyone doubted the oft-times cold, we’ve-moved-on nature of the NFL, we offer you what used to be Vontae Davis’ locker room cubicle at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
It had been cleaned out Thursday morning. What used to be Davis’ chair was placed in what used to be the space for his cleats and other personal items. His nameplate had been removed.
Thanks for the memories, along with those team-high 13 interceptions over the past five-plus seasons and two Pro Bowl appearances.
The culmination of a bizarre six-day saga between the Indianapolis Colts and their veteran cornerback – he was demoted last week either due to performance (Colts’ version) or because of a lingering groin tear (Davis’ version) – came Thursday morning when the team announced his release.
That these are strange times on West 56th Street was reinforced when coach Chuck Pagano broke his routine of not meeting with the media on Thursday. He spoke briefly shortly after noon, then exited the press room without taking questions.
“Every decision we make, that I make, is based on two things,’’ Pagano said. “And that’s what’s best for the football team – the team – and what gives us the best chance to win.
“This isn’t about one guy, OK? Nobody’s bigger than the team and it starts with me, OK? I’m not. Nobody is. The only thing that matters is the football team and winning.’’
Davis’ release came less than 24 hours after he criticized the team’s handling of his demotion. He mentioned he had tried dealing with the groin injury, sustained during the third preseason game, while starting five games before the demotion prior to Sunday’s trip to Houston.
Wednesday evening it was reported Davis had decided to undergo season-ending surgery after receiving additional medical advice. During a Thursday appearance on 1070 The Fan’s “Dan Dakich Show,’’ general manager Chris Ballard said he was “surprised’’ by the news of surgery and there never were complaints from Davis regarding the groin injury prior to his demotion.
That’s more than Pagano offered, although he thanked Davis for five-plus seasons of service.
“We love Vontae. I love Vontae,’’ he said. “We’ve been together for a long time. He’s done a lot of great things for us.’’
It was simply time to move on.
“But we’re putting this to bed,’’ Pagano said. “We’re not going to talk about it anymore.
“So it’s Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.’’
The Colts entertain the Steelers Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It was evident players were given the We’ve moved on marching orders.
“It’s a business,’’ Rashaan Melvin, Davis’ former cornerback sidekick, said. “You control what you can control.’’
Was he surprised by Davis’ release?
“That’s the coach’s decision,’’ he said.
Even so, Darius Butler couldn’t take a business as usual approach. He and Davis were the longest-tenured Colts defenders. They shared the locker room since 2012. This personnel decision cut deep.
“It’s tough,’’ Davis said. “We’ve been teammates for six years, came into the league together nine years ago.
“He’s been nothing but a great teammate, great person in the community. I wish Vontae the best. I’m sure he’ll land on his feet.’’
Butler is no stranger to the cold side of the NFL. A second-round pick of New England in 2009, he’s been waived by the Patriots and the Carolina Panthers.
“I’ve been around a while,’’ he said. “I’ve been on a team where Randy Moss got traded. I’ve seen Peyton Manning get cut.
“I’ve seen a lot of things happen, so I won’t say I was surprised.’’
Davis still is due $4.235 million from the four-year, $39 million contract he signed in 2014. He’ll undoubtedly get that either from the Colts through a termination pay claim or from another team in the highly-unlikely event one would claim him off waivers.
More personnel matters:
Along with cutting ties with Davis, the Colts placed defensive tackle Henry Anderson on the injured reserve list (fractured larynx), activated offensive lineman Denzelle Good (wrist) from the injured reserve list and elevated wide receiver Matt Hazel to the active roster from the practice squad.