Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Nov 2015

Broncos Trade for Vernon Davis

Yay, actual trade deadline deals. We don't get many of those in the NFL. The 49ers are sending Vernon Davis and a 2016 seventh-round pick to Denver for sixth-round picks in 2015 and 2016. Not much value there for San Francisco, especially because I wonder if Denver might get a compensatory sixth- or seventh-round pick if Davis signs elsewhere after this season. (He's in the final year of his contract.) Davis has minus-28 DYAR through Week 8 with just a 60 percent catch rate but that's still better than what Owen Daniels has done as the starting tight end in Denver (minus-58 DYAR, 53 percent catch rate) and they see Virgil Green as more of a block-first guy.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 02 Nov 2015

42 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2015, 8:35am by fest201620

Comments

1
by TimK :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 6:52pm

That looks like the kind of deal the Ravens & Patriots have been good at - compensatory picks recouping much of the lost draft value and you get to kick the tires on a potentially useful player.

If Davis can recover form of any kind could be a great deal for Broncos, with relatively little downside.

18
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 8:10am

I doubt any compensatory pick will come out of this. The formula lowers the compensatory value for players who are on their second or more contract. Only a big contract will trigger it. Davis will be 32 in January and they are a few 32+ TE who have been productive, but the track record doesn't scream big contract.

Most Similar Players for 2012-2014
Rank Player Year Sim
1 Owen Daniels 2011-2013 882 (2015 will probably be his last year)
2 Keith Jackson 1993-1995 869 (1996 was his last year in the league)
3 Derrick Ramsey 1983-1985 867 (after 1985 he played one more game)
4 Dave Casper 1981-1983 865 (1984 was his last year in the league)
5 Paul Coffman 1984-1986 862 (played two more years but only 5 catches)
6 Doug Cosbie 1984-1986 858 (played okay in 1987 but fell off the table in 1988)
7 Marcus Pollard 2000-2002 849 *
8 Benjamin Watson 2009-2011 848 *
9 Todd Heap 2009-2011 845 (2012 was his last year in the league)
10 Frank Wycheck 2000-2002 845 (2003 was his last year in the league)

25
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 1:14pm

The guy was holding out from training camp at the beginning of last year. He's made over $50 million from football including a rookie contract which he spectacularly underperformed for value. Everybody wants to get the best deal they can but to hold out before the end of your 2nd contract, when you're not even elite, is taking the piss. Good luck to John Elway if he's looking to re-sign him.

26
by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 1:14pm

-

2
by dryheat :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 6:59pm

I don't see any reason he can't give Denver at least what Julius Thomas did last year.

5
by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 7:15pm

I'm not sure he can be that good, but he's almost certainly an upgrade over Daniels.

15
by Dan_L :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 2:00am

If you're going to do a DenverfanJoe type character, you should at least misspell some words and extol the virtues of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter.

19
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 10:23am

This being Colorado, Rocky Mountain Gold Sensimilla may be more appropriate.

21
by dryheat :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 10:37am

Is Breckinridge no longer brewed in Colorado?

22
by jtr :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 11:36am

I think Fat Tire is the Denver parallel for Raiderjoe's Sierra Nevada as the area's ubiquitous craft beer.

28
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 4:42pm

Colorado has no shortage of excellent microbreweries, what with our amazingly clean tap water. But I'd agree that Fat Tire is the most ubiquitous, and symbolizes Colorado brewing more than any other, even though Sunshine Wheat from the same brewery is my personal favorite.

30
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 7:20pm

I prefer Great Divide's Old Yeti

32
by Jerry :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 7:50pm

They do a lot of Yetis, don't they? [Thinks fondly of barrel-aged.]

36
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 12:53am

Yes they do. Oatmeal Imperial Stout is my favorite.

41
by LionInAZ :: Thu, 11/05/2015 - 8:19pm

Rampant is my personal choice from NB, but I did enjoy greatly the Loft seasonal offering that is unfortunately no longer offered.

Otherwise, this seems like a smart pickup for Den, a veteran TE who is probably better than anyone else on the team or on the market. Manning will get more value out of Davis than the current 49ers. The biggest risk is an old-guy injury in week 14-17.

37
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:46am

Sensimilla is a variety of marijuana

40
by ChrisS :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 11:56pm

I laughed that you had to explain that.

20
by dryheat :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 10:36am

Is it unreasonable to think Davis can win at the line of scrimmage and catch those quick darts on the hash marks that Thomas used to turn into nice gains and be a force in the Red Zone?

When he came into the league, he was probably the number two freak athlete in the NFL. I'm willing to wager that at 29 he still maintains enough of that athleticism to make a difference. Incompetent quarterbacking and coaching are likely bigger culprits for his recent lack of production than decline of skill.

Playing for an undefeated team should give him a boost. And all this for virtually no investment? No-brainer.

The Vanilla Porter doesn't do it for me, but I think the Avalanche is pretty good.

24
by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 12:35pm

" I'm willing to wager that at 29 he still maintains enough of that athleticism to make a difference".

Except he's 31. He'll turn 32 in January.

3
by MarkV :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 7:10pm

This seems a pretty weak deal for denver. If they get a comp pick down the road it gets better, but Denver is paying a 2.5 million for 9 games of Davis. He hasn't seemed worth that for a long while.

4
by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 7:14pm

It's a trivial amount of money for a guy who was outstanding not long ago, especially when there is a legitimate chance this is Manning's last season.

6
by TimK :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 7:32pm

If you've got spare cap money there is only so much you can with it at this stage of the season.

If he plays like even just a solid starter then you've probably got either an inside track on re-signing him or will get a compensatory pick when someone else does.

7
by Denverite :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 7:52pm

Yeah, but if they have the cap room, it's only money. And to be honest, they really should be looking to divest themselves of lower round draft picks at this point. With their depth and a bunch of comp picks, they're not going to have room for a lot of the late round draftees.

8
by Will Allen :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 7:53pm

If they have the cap room, the only people who should care about the money are Pat Bowlen's heirs, and depending how that situation is structured, this trade may benefit them.

9
by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 8:22pm

I realize everyone is only thinking about this year, but cap room rolls over. That's why the Jets trade for Percy Harvin was so foolish. Teams should only be pulling off trades like this if they are contenders.

11
by BucNasty :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 9:38pm

I'm pretty sure Denver consider themselves to be contenders.

16
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 3:56am

To clarify, I was only comparing this trade's effect on next year's cap with the Harvin trade. It's actually a great deal for the Broncos, much better than the Harvin trade, because they're contenders, and also they can let him go and get a compensatory pick later on.

14
by Independent George :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 12:52am

Do you really think Peyton is going to play next year?

10
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 8:27pm

Cap space largely rolls over from year to year since the 2011 CBA - so there's no real "free space" anymore - anything you spend this year takes away from what you can spend next year, so all cap decisions really need to be made smartly.

17
by TimK :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 5:22am

I thought there were some fairly stringent limits regarding what rolls over (and that if a team was clever with contracts then a lot of that could be made up out of un-met bonuses that were pre-counted against the cap). I'm not sure of this though, almost every article I've read on how salary cap details work seems to start with a disclaimer saying that it is only giving the basics of what goes on.

Salary caps rules, almost as convoluted as those governing what a catch is? ;)

31
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 7:48pm

It looks like they got rid of those in the last collective bargaining agreement: http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/02/12/new-cba-gives-teams-the-...

The best place for checking on a team's cap space seems to be Over the Cap, in spite of the fact it was founded by a Jets fan who's fallen in love with the Eagles. They had the Broncos with 17 million in cap space for 2016 before this trade.

12
by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 9:48pm

If Davis' decline is more about subpar QB play than 'losing it', this is a great deal for Denver. I can see much of Denver's base offense evolving into a two TE set (which they did a lot Sunday night) with Virgil Green as a FB/HB and Vernon Davis as a TE/Slot Receiver.

Owen Daniels has been a disappointment and it wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't become a gameday inactive in a month or so when Davis picks up the system.

13
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 11/02/2015 - 10:40pm

I can't see how this completely isn't worth the risk for Denver; sure, Davis has been slipping, but this year seems pretty clearly to be the Death Ride of Peyton Manning. There's at least a chance Davis can help revitalize what's been a pretty moribund offense, and it's not like we're talking "Trent Richardson for a first" territory here.

23
by RickD :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 12:01pm

Elway is starting to seem like an executive too attracted by "Big Names from the Recent Past".

Let's see if he hauls in Joe Thomas. Thomas at least is still in top form, but the Browns' asking price is going to be very steep.

29
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 4:50pm

Is Thomas actually available? And if so, is there any indication the Broncos are interested?

33
by Jerry :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 7:53pm

As you may have heard by now, it looks the Browns and Broncos came close to making a deal before it fell apart.

39
by chemical burn :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 8:36pm

Yeah, those "big names from the recent past" like Manning, Ware, Talib, Mathis and Wes Welker really haven't worked out for them at all. I'm curious who you're thinking of with this comment - almost every veteran they've brought in has exceeded expectations (I'm including Mathis after his total mauling of everyone in front of his this past week - the o-line looks like it's settling in and he's back in All-Pro form.) I mean, is there some problem with Owen Daniels I'm not aware of? Does he count as a "big name?" How does a smaller-name like T.J. Ward playing up to expectations factor into it? I honestly have no idea if you meant your comment as a criticism (because it makes no sense as one.)

27
by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 4:21pm

Vernon Davis is an athletic specimen on the level of an Aaron Hernandez (he isn't as big as Gronk or Jimmy Graham). He's a good blocker. Unfortunately, he can't run routes, especially outside, so he's unlikely to become the Second Coming of Julius Thomas, much less Dallas Clark.

However, there is every chance that he will be good for a twenty yard seam throw or two every game, and he can block well on screens. He's an improvement over having Jordan Norwood or Owen Daniels on the field.

34
by dryheat :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 9:09pm

Since there's no specific XP for it, what about Joseph Randle getting cut by Dallas. Some people just don't get it. Maybe he and Ryan Mallett can start up a flag football team.

35
by mehllageman56 :: Tue, 11/03/2015 - 9:29pm

At least neither of them broke their teammate's jaw.

38
by justanothersteve :: Wed, 11/04/2015 - 10:50am

They cut Randle after keeping Josh Brent and signing Greg Hardy. Wow. Just wow.

42
by fest201620 :: Tue, 12/01/2015 - 8:35am