What went wrong with Vernon Davis in Denver?

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As tight end Vernon Davis prepares to become a free agent for the first time in his NFL career, the man who traded for Davis during the 2015 season recently spoke about why things didn’t work out for Davis in Denver.

“I think that the coaches kind of go in different directions at different times and how things mix and we could never really get up to speed with him,” Broncos G.M. John Elway told Pro Football Talk on NBCSN at the Scouting Combine. “He did come in late in the year, so whether he didn’t feel comfortable with what we were doing and what we could get him in situations, we tried to get him in situations to be successful. But then again it comes down to making those calls during a game and where he had a chance. So that’s another area we’ll look at, tight end’s a position we have to look at, still very fluid that we feel like we have to get better there.”

It sounds like Davis, who had one catch on December 20 at Pittsburgh and not a single one after that through the Super Bowl, won’t be back for a second season in Denver. So where will he go?

Keep an eye on Washington, where the guy who drafted Davis in San Francisco now serves as G.M. At a minimum, expect Scot McCloughan to at least visit with Davis in an effort to figure out where the player currently is in his career, and whether he can get back to being the guy he was a couple of years ago, before he started posturing for a new contract and sold a chunk of his future earnings to Fantex in exchange for the kind of lump sum he likely won’t see again in the NFL.

53 responses to “What went wrong with Vernon Davis in Denver?

  1. I hear Baltimore needs a tight end. One on permanent injured reserve and one on permanent banned substance suspension. Maxx Williams might as well join the group and start a human trade scandal.

  2. So much of Vernon’s game is based upon pure physicality and speed — but those have largely left his game now. His knees appear to be like that of a 60 year old, and you see no explosion or burst anymore like you once did.

    I’ve also seen him eat a lot of big hits. Even though he’s never played Pittsburgh often, I recall one torpedo shot layed on him by Polamalu that clearly messed him up. And probably his biggest most violent nemesis has been Chancellor — who has been a one-man demolition crew on Vernon (and other players, including OLs).

    Vernon has largely lost what made him a great player, due to age and injuries. But I wish him well. After Singletary’s “I want winners” speech – he really responded to that well to have a fine career.

  3. This is why there are so few in-season trades at the skill positions. It’s all about rhythm and timing. Osweiler and Manning weren’t going to stop throwing to the people they had been throwing to since training camp unless they absolutely had to.

    Sure, Davis may have lost a step, but he is certainly an NFL capable tight end. I think he’ll bounce back to at least above-average production at his next stop.

  4. washington is pretty set at te with jordan reed, unless davis wants to come in as the blocking te, and i don’t think that’s going to happen.

  5. Elway probably owed baalke a solid. so he threw him a bone by taking Davis off his hands.

    Davis lost the desire to play football. also he got old quickly.

  6. Pittsburgh just lost Heath Miller. They’ll probably take your call. You couldn’t possibly do any worse than their perennial waste of oxygen, Matt Spaeth.

  7. I’d be glad to see him in Washington at the right price. He played at Maryland and is from DC so it could be a good last stop for him. He’d also be a good stop gap solution on the other side of Jordan Reed and a good veteran for that group. I’d still want to see us take a TE in rounds 3 or 4.

  8. Many tight ends that catch a lot passes aren’t fast. Vernon’s problems were mental rather than physical. Elway isn’t going to go there in public. Davis has a hard time learning the play book and he doesn’t have the passion to play football. Watch the tape. He quits in the middle of the play while his QB is scrambling. He just doesn’t compete. He’s got a super bowl ring though, so maybe now he can qualify for the HOF.

  9. Make excuses about timing and not knowing the system all you want. But the fact is he dropped passes because he was afraid to get hit. He heard foot steps and he dropped the ball.

  10. Never was all that’s impressed with Davis. He’s always been a scent TE, but outside of his two 10+ TD seasons he has largely been a middle of the road type of guy

  11. As a Broncos fan, I was hoping to see Vernon Davis have a resurgence in Denver, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. I think that Kam Chancellor effectively ended Vernon Davis’ career, he just doesn’t know it yet.

  12. Davis turtled at a crucial moment in Pittsburgh.

    There isn’t much you can do with a TE who’s afraid of getting hit.

  13. Can’t win with him… as coach Singletary said…. so the Broncos did it without him.. I remember people were bashing GB for not making a move on Davis especially after how cheaper he seemed but even then he wasn’t worth it…

  14. Vernon Davis fell off a cliff after Kam Chancellor blasted him in the 2013 NFC Championship game. He has never been the same. He drops a lot of balls for fear of getting drilled again. He is done as a player.

  15. Some players cant just go to a new team and learn the offense in a month and be themselves. The guy had a new coach and new offense last season then gets traded and had to learn another new offense durring the same season, some people just cant grasp that.

    plus the drop that sealed the loss for Denver vs the Raiders pretty much was the last time i saw him on the field haha.

  16. Easy answer. Poor hands (can’t catch in traffic); Mustard seed heart (can’t catch in traffic); Middle of the field routes are taboo in his route tree ( fatal defect for a tight end); Not a disciplined enough route runner. So you can’t move him to wide receiver to utilize his speed, because he can’t create separation from quick & fast NFL corners. So IMO this dude has one limited option. But it is a good one. Reposition himself as a big fast fullback, slotback, TE hybrid that runs screen, wheel and gap routes out of the back field or from back field motion. Yet can stay in a block on the running game. & for blitzes. May be valuable for teams like New England, Atlanta, or Seattle, who know how to use talent that way. If he came at the right price.

  17. he ruined my Fantex experience…i will never buy stock in a player ever again! life savings down the drain…well that and draft kings/fanduel/direct tv/Sunday Ticket/PSL etc…etc…

  18. Personally I like the play of Virgil Green, Green is tuff, can block, and is a better receiver than he given credit for. Green is a solid player, but not flashy.

    Vernon Davis plays with a lot of heart. Sometimes guys like that don’t know when to quit and beat their bodies up more than necessary. I believe that’s what happened to Davis. He may have nothing left in the tank. Sometimes taking some time off from the game helps. Everyone needs to regenerate in their own way. If taking time away from the game, age then becomes a factor. Davis was not the same player last year.

  19. He dropped too many easy catches and the staff lost confidence in him. Period. He contributed nothing to the offense.

  20. People rarely look closely at Davis’s stats and when they do they quickly realize that he’s been incredibly inconsistent his entire career and for the most part, overrated.

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