ANDERSON — Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson issued fair warning at the NFL Scouting Combine last month the team might not be able to keep all of the players it would like to.
Now, as free agency prepares to begin today at 4 p.m., it appears he might be on the verge of losing the player many believed to be the top priority.
Reports surfaced Monday evening linking the New York Jets to strong interest in free agent cornerback Vontae Davis. The Colts traded a second-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Davis just before the start of the 2012 season.
He played in 26 games for Indianapolis over the past two seasons and made just four interceptions. But he was the third-ranked cornerback in the league last year according to the respected Pro Football Focus evaluation website.
There’s still time for the Colts to bring Davis back into the fold, but it’s running short. The 25-year-old is expected to sign a deal somewhere before his first day on the open market comes to a close.
“We’re optimistic about the process and our game plan, but it is the NFL,” Grigson said of the team’s offseason plans during the combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. “You want to lock everybody up and have everybody here. It’s still the NFL, and you can’t have everything.”
Kicker Adam Vinatieri and safety Antoine Bethea also remained unsigned as the deadline approached. Indianapolis did lock up outside linebacker Justin Hickman and defensive lineman Fili Moala to new deals Monday, adding depth to a defense that figures to see plenty of attention in the next few weeks.
The Colts have about $36 million in salary cap room and might need to use it to address needs at center, cornerback, safety and wide receiver. With just five picks in May’s draft, the free agency period will be critical to roster building.