New England Patriots

NFL free agency is on the horizon, and cornerback Vontae Davis is among the names who will be available on the market even before it starts. With a potential need at corner behind Stephon Gilmore, should the Patriots take a look?

The Colts cut Davis in November, and the cornerback then had core surgery. At the time of his release, Colts GM Chris Ballard attributed the move to Davis simply not playing well enough.

Now, Davis has been cleared to play after recovering from his surgery, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter. He can sign with a team at any time and doesn’t have to wait until March 14, since the Colts cut him during the season.

Will The Patriots Take A Look?

Davis will turn 30 years old on May 27. A consideration for the Patriots and other teams will be whether he’s already on the back end of his career and how healthy he really will be entering 2018. But if the Pats don’t make a move at cornerback this offseason, you’re looking at Stephon Gilmore and either Eric Rowe or Jonathan Jones as your two starting corners next season.

Gilmore has more than earned his keep in his first year as a Patriot, so that second spot will be up for grabs. Davis has been one of the league’s better cover corners for most of his nine-year NFL career, which includes Pro Bowl nods in 2014 and 2015. So it might behoove the Patriots to at least take a look at him, bring him in for a workout to see if he’s back in the same shape he was in before his core injury.

Rob Gronkowski scores a touchdown against Vontae Davis of the Indianapolis Colts on November 16, 2014. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski scores a touchdown against Vontae Davis of the Indianapolis Colts on November 16, 2014. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

What To Expect In Free Agency

The cornerback market will be a healthy one in 2018. You’ll hear a lot in the coming weeks about the likes of Trumaine Johnson, David Amerson, Prince Amukamara, and … Malcolm Butler. But it appears that the latter is clearly on his way out and the Pats will need to at the very least grab a cornerback for the depth chart. Still, they’d be best suited signing someone that can rank right there with Gilmore. If Davis is healthy, he could be that guy – and he probably wouldn’t require more than a one-year, relatively affordable deal at this point. It may be the right time to pounce.

Then again, the front-seven is a much greater need for the Patriots defense than the secondary. They need to improve their pass rush and linebacking corps, and those are likely going to be bigger priorities. And that’s a big “if” regarding Davis’ health. It couldn’t hurt to work him out, but if he’s not right physically, then maybe they’re better off just giving Jones (Jonathan, not Cyrus) the starting gig.

But Davis could end up being an option for the Pats if they can get him on the proverbial “prove it” deal, a la Darrelle Revis in 2014. It’s hard to believe that Davis doesn’t still have something left. And that Bill Belichick wouldn’t be willing to take a chance if 2018 is going to be closing in on the end of his own career.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.