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2021 NFL Free Agency: Julie’n Davenport Expected To Sign With Colts

I want to be that feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Cincinnati Bengals v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

It’s 2017. Julie’n Davenport had just been selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He met defensive ends at the point of contact with ease. Always square and straight, using his long arms to punch and grasp the chest. He could latch on and make his one-on-one blocks. He had the best Bucknell film you will ever see. Straight from New York Pennsylvania, Davenport was ready to play professional football. Eventually.

Rick Smith selected him as a project left tackle behind Duane Brown. Then Brown ate some bad meat in Mexico. Then there was a contract dispute, because Brown wanted to add guarantee money to his deal. Then there was the inmate comment. Brown played one more game for the Texans. He took over for Chris Clark in a Week Eight loss to Seattle. Immediately following that game, Brown was sent to the Seahawks for a second round pick.

Rather than return to Chris Clark in the wake of Brown’s departure, the Texans started Davenport. For the place he was selected and the college he attended, he adjusted to the speed of the game well. He performed adequately and adamantly. There was something to build on here.

The following season, in 2018, the Texans trotted out Davenport at left tackle and Seantrel Henderson at right tackle. Henderson, who was bad and always injured, was predictably bad before he snapped his ankle in Houston’s Week One loss to the Patriots. This destroyed the Texans’ entire offensive line. Houston moved Davenport to right tackle, a position he’d never played before, and started rookie offensive lineman Martinas Rankin at left tackle after he missed the entirety of training camp. The results were disastrous. The Texans offensive line was beat around the edge snap after snap after snap. Eventually the Texans learned from their lesson and moved Davenport back to left tackle and placed Kendall Lamm at right tackle. Things got better after that. That being said, the Texans still stunted Davenport’s development and hurt his pass set by making him play a position he never played and never should have played.

Rather than just play their players in a position that they could play, the Texans’ coaching staff was hung up on versatility. That dirty little word. Instead of narrowing their focus to a spot at which they could succeed, the coaches expanded it across the entirety of the offensive line, removing any cohesion between teammates and any comfort for the individual player. The biggest issue wasn’t the talent; it was the mismanagement of the resources they had.

Brian Gaine was the general manager the following offseason. In an attempt to address the position, the Texans drafted Tytus Howard, who couldn’t play left tackle and started the season at guard before moving to right tackle, and Max Scharping, who couldn’t play tackle either. The Texans went into the season with Matt Khalil as their starting left tackle. Bill O’Brien had to hide Khalil from the press after practice; I suspect O’Brien said he had an unknown injury to save face. Houston cut Khalil before the season began.

In an attempt to save things before it was too late, Houston traded Davenport, Johnson Bademosi, two first round picks, and a second round pick to Miami for Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth round pick, and a 2021 sixth round pick. Tunsil has been a great pass protector for the Texans, but no left tackle is worth the picks the Texans surrendered. Davenport started right away in Miami. He was thrust into a brand new, bad offense blocking for a bad quarterback. He played next to a bad guard. He struggled throughout the entire season. Miami drafted Austin Jackson the following year and relegated Davenport to swing tackle.

There were never any Tunsil trade rumors to begin with, but trading him made sense for a rebuilding team that needed draft capital. The Texans could probably trade Tunsil for a mid-first round pick or two second round picks, among other things. Tunsil’s recent restructure likely halted all trade talks, assuming any materalized. Tunsil will be here until next year.

Julie’n Davenport hit free agency this offseason. The first wave of free agency is over, and now teams are searching the bin to find depth and bargains. Davenport offers that. He’d be a good swing tackle for most NFL teams, providing adequate pass protection in a pinch or even an extended period of time.

Anthony Caztonzo morphed from pretty good to really good in his later years. After fighting through injuries this past season, he decided to head to a tree house to hang out with Andrew Luck, leaving a hole at left tackle for the Colts. They brought in Sam Tevi, a complete and total disaster, and now they are also expected to sign Julie’n Davenport.

It’s a journey five years in the making, and it’s the worst path it could have taken. Davenport has gone from Bucknell darling to now a member of that insidious football operation, cheered on by groveling mayonnaise people inside brick and skidmarked glass, wearing plain white and a terrible shade of blue. Why Indy? Anywhere, anywhere but here.

I understand the opportunity. Davenport could possibly start. He could possibly play next to Quenton Nelson. He could allow only six Carson Wentz forced fumbles instead of the twelve that Tevi would allow. But of all the franchises and fanbases, Indianapolis is the only one anyone should have real hatred for. They stole their team. The colors are bland and putrid. The owner has put lives at risk behind the wheel of his own vehicle; he’s an Ed Hardy t-shirt come to life. The fans there booed Andrew Luck for retiring. The entire fanbase is delusional; they actually thought Jacoby Brissett is a franchise quarterback. Most importantly, they are extremely boring.

What’s wrong with Minnesota? Davenport would look beautiful in purple. Or Tampa Bay, where he could have replaced Joe Haeg as the team’s sixth offensive lineman. Or Philadelphia, which could use Andre Dillard insurance. Or Las Vegas, where he could back up Kolton Miller. O Kansas City, which doesn’t even have a left tackle on their roster. Or Jacksonville, which needs a swing tackle. Anywhere, anywhere, anywhere but Indianapolis.

I am Juli’en Davenport’s number one fan, and I am heartbroken about this news.