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Miami Dolphins deal Vontae Davis to Colts for draft picks

Vontae Davis is out of chances in Miami.

Meanwhile, his abrupt exit ups the odds the Dolphins will soon address their most glaring need: the receiver position.

The Dolphins cut ties with the frustrating cornerback Sunday, trading Davis to the Colts for two undisclosed draft picks. Fox Sports reported that the Dolphins get a second-round pick and a conditional sixth-rounder in return.

But Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland, who pulled the trigger on the deal, told The Miami Herald that the team doesn’t necessarily have to wait until April’s draft to make use of the freshly acquired picks.

“We’re looking, and this gives us a little bit of ammunition,” Ireland said when asked of potentially trading for a receiver. “If we can do something, we’ll do it now.

“We appreciate all the contributions Vontae has made to the Dolphins since we drafted him in 2009, and we want to wish him the best of success in Indianapolis,” Ireland added.

One receiver likely not in Miami’s plans: Terrell Owens, released by the Seahawks on Sunday. Ireland said the team is “probably not interested” in Owens.

As for Davis, the trade ends more than three tumultuous years in Miami, a stint that included violations of team rules, a practice-field fight with former teammate Brandon Marshall and, this year, his demotion.

Davis, who practiced with the team Sunday and was one of the last out of the locker room, lost his starting job to Richard Marshall after reporting to camp out of shape.

“Thank GOD for keeping me in the right direction!” Davis wrote on Twitter after getting the news.

The deal has apparently been in the works for some time, if Colts owner Jim Irsay’s Twitter account is any guide. Irsay first sent the rumor mills churning Thursday by tweeting that trade winds were “swirling,” and followed that up Sunday with an update: “Whipping fiercely, but it’s gotta get done soon, if it’s gonna get done. Coaches need him ASAP.”

As soon as possible was apparently Sunday afternoon. Ireland, who watched practice Sunday from inside the team’s covered practice field, paced the sidelines while talking on his cell phone late in the session but gave no hints that he was on the verge of a major deal.

“Bottom line with this move today is we got better as a football team,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. “From the first time he stepped on the field at Illinois as a freshman or in the National Football League as a rookie, you knew Vontae was a special talent.

“Now he has a chance under Coach [Chuck] Pagano and this coaching staff to reach not only his potential as a football player, but as a person as well. That is our collective goal moving forward.”

It’s telling that Grigson made reference to Davis’ personal shortcomings. They likely played a major part in his departure from Miami. Davis, the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft, had several well-publicized slip-ups during his time with the Dolphins.

Davis was suspended for a game last year when he showed up late and hung over to a walk-through practice, leading to his spat with Brandon Marshall. He was also suspended from starting one game in 2010 for breaking unspecified team rules.

That was under an old coaching staff, one that might have been more tolerant of his behavior. But if Joe Philbin’s seven months in Miami have taught us anything, it’s that he has little patience for such distractions. Since Philbin took over, the Dolphins have dealt Brandon Marshall and cut Chad Johnson after his domestic abuse arrest.

Davis, meanwhile, did himself no favors by reporting to camp out of shape. Even after Richard Marshall struggled in Miami’s preseason loss to Atlanta on Friday, Philbin gave no indication that Davis might return to the starting lineup.

We now see why. The move leaves Marshall and Sean Smith as the team’s top two corners, with Nolan Carroll the first defensive back off the bench. Smith entered the league the same year as Davis and clearly surpassed him this summer. Smith is in the final year of his rookie contract, however, and an extension does not appear imminent.

“Do yo thang this year boss,” Smith wrote to Davis on Twitter. “I’m already knowin u [going to] hold it down!!! We still got the same goal in mind.”

Carroll was the 79th-rated cornerback out of the 109 who played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps in 2011, according to Pro Football Focus. Marshall is in the first season of a three-year deal.

Ireland, who disputed the idea that the Dolphins were rebuilding, said the team’s confidence in Smith, Marshall and Carroll played a big part in the team’s decision to make the trade.

Miami Herald sportswriter Armando Salguero contributed to this report.

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