Let's preface this article: remember when the Denver Broncos raided the free agent market in 2014 and brought back receiver Emmanuel Sanders (the Patriots wanted him), cornerback Aqib Talib (ooh, the Patriots wanted him, too), pass rusher Demarcus Ware (an all time great), and safety T.J. Ward (kneediver can go to Tampa for all I care)?
Remember what happened at the end of the season? With the Patriots and the Malcolm Butler and the Super Bowl?
We all good here? Buckled in?
Alright. Well, the Broncos just added tight end Vernon Davis to their offense. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the 49ers sent Davis and their 2016 7th round pick to Denver in exchange for the Broncos 2016 and 2017 6th round picks.
Prior to the laboratory experiment that created Jamie Collins, Davis was the league's athletic freak. The 6'3, 250 lbs Davis boasts 4.40 speed, a 42-inch vertical, a 10'8 broad jump, and 33 reps on the bench press. For context, all of those numbers are far better than star cornerback Vontae Davis' output, while doing it 3 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier.
Coincidentally, the Davis' are brothers and they will get to play each other for the first time next week.
Why were the Broncos able to acquire Davis at such a low price?
Davis was set to be a free agent at the end of the season and he'd be 32 years old. He's also finished his second multi-year contract, which caps the possible compensatory pick to a 5th rounder. With the 49ers picking at the top of the 7th round, and the Broncos inevitably picking towards the bottom, Denver is effectively dropping just a handful of draft spots this year, and then sending away a 2017 6th rounder.
If I had to bet, Davis will be able to snag a contract that will net the Broncos back that future 6th rounder, via the compensatory pick process.
The 49ers made the trade so they could get anything back for Davis, although this is an astoundingly cheap return. I'm shocked no other team was wiling to give a 2016 6th round pick straight up.
How can they afford him?
Denver has done a really good job with managing their dead money over the past few seasons. Per Spotrac, the Patriots have roughly $17.8 million in dead cap space due to contracts of players no longer on the team ($5 million for Darrelle Revis, $4 million for Logan Mankins, $3.25 million for Kyle Arrington, $1.3 million for Bradley Fletcher).
The Broncos have just $3.4 million in dead space, with kicker Matt Prater's $825,000 in dead cap the most expensive hit.
Think of that. $14 million in dead cap differential. That's the equivalent of a Dez Bryant on the roster.
Is Davis good anymore?
Fair question. He's been bugged with injuries over the past couple of seasons and he's never met his ridiculous potential. Part of that is due to the ineptitude of the 49ers team over his ten year career, but plenty has to do with his own issues. He was causing issues in the locker room and he needed a scenery change.
Per Niners Nation Dave Fucillo, Davis is good on crossing patterns and up the seam, which are apparently the only throws that Peyton Manning can complete at this stage in his career. He is probably a big step up over Owen Daniels and Virgil Green, the Broncos current tight ends.
Has he been successful against the Patriots?
In two career games against New England, Davis has seen 4 targets, and collected one pass for 10 yards.
Does this change how the Patriots approach the Broncos?
They'll have three games of tape to watch before finalizing their defense, but this probably doesn't change too much. 70% of Peyton Manning's passes in his resurrection game against the Packers were between the tackles, and that's where Davis plays his strength. The Patriots plan to clog the middle of the field by chucking the low crossers probably doesn't change that much.
What does change is the potential match-up. I feel 100% confident with Patrick Chung matched up in man on Owen Daniels or Virgil Green. Davis is the type of player that could require bracket coverage over the top due to his athleticism.
Why does Bill Belichick the General Manager hate Bill Belichick the Head Coach?
Shut up, Hank. Maybe the Patriots will make a trade before the deadline. Maybe they won't. The Patriots have no place for Davis on the roster (he's averaging fewer yards per game than Danny Amendola). New England also has the best offense in football, while boasting a top 10 defense.
And remember, the last time the Broncos looked to make power moves during the offseason, Belichick stepped up to bat and hit a grand slam with Darrelle Revis. This ride ain't over.
Does the power of the AFC shift over to Denver?