San Francisco 49ers star tight end Vernon Davis will not be at 49ers minicamp this week. Davis is reportedly holding out for a new contract.
Both Davis and teammate Alex Boone have said they are unsatisfied with their current contract. In the wake of quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s mega contract extension, both Davis and Boone feel they are well-deserving of an extension from the 49ers. And as Kaepernick eluded, that is the reason why he signed his extension, to ensure other guys can also get paid.
What I found interesting when Colin was interviewed after signing the extension he gave the statement, “Part of the way the contract is written and the way it was negotiated was so they would be able to sign other players.” Directly following that statement Kaepernick went on to name wide receiver Michael Crabtree as one of those that the 49ers should re-sign. Kaepernick didn’t name tight end Vernon Davis or offensive lineman Alex Boone. Crabtree is entering the final year of his initial rookie contract and Davis has two years left on his, so yes Crabtree would be the more expedient 49er contract.
The day after the contract extension was signed, Vernon Davis appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter. When asked about the extension, Davis congratulated Kaepernick saying, “he deserves it.” The attention then focused on Davis and his contract at which time Davis said he wouldn’t be at OTA’s but mandatory minicamp means mandatory, “so I should be there, we’ll see.” We see and we notice Davis is not there despite his earlier words.
The 49ers would be foolish to not sit down with Vernon Davis and hear him out, although Davis’ demands may itself be a little foolish. Davis is currently Fantex’s first publicly traded athlete, which means you and I can buy stock in Vernon Davis. Why is that important to know? Well, if Davis lands a new huge extension it would add big value to his public stock. Every other endorsement deal Davis lands adds extra value to that stock.
Is this why Davis is holding out, to hopefully add more value to his stock? Maybe. Or maybe this is the reason.
On the same ESPN SportsCenter show, Davis was later asked about New Orleans tightend Jimmy Graham who is currently filing a grevience with the NFLPA on whether or not he should be franchised tagged as a tight end or wide receiver. Graham is stating that he lines up more than 60% of the time along the outside, off the line of scrimmage, where receivers line up. Only retired tight end Tony Gonzalez lined up along the outside more in 2013 than Graham. Due to his current role with the team, Graham believes he should receive wide receiver money not the tight end fanchise tag he currently has. The difference would be around $5 million more than tight end money in NFL speak.
Maybe Vernon Davis is asking the same, like Graham, of his current team. Keep in mind, Vernon is now losing $200,000 for missing out on these mandatory mini camps. He could also be fined up to $70,000 by the team for not showing.
Davis is currently the third-highest paid tight end in the NFL. Davis signed the largest contract ever for a tight end in 2010. Davis’ stats in 2013 were among the highest of his career in yards-per-reception (16.3), and touchdowns (13). Vance McDonald is Davis’ current back up and McDonald hasn’t instilled faith in the 49ers coaching staff that he can be a viable replacement for Davis. That said, Davis has shown his value year after year for the 49ers. But in the clutch moments in the 2013 Super Bowl and 2014 NFC Championship Game Colin Kaepernick was looking for Michael Crabtree, not Vernon Davis. Could there be a rift between Davis and Kaepernick as well?
Read this interesting perspective that Vernon Davis himself wrote for SI.com.
As Jeff Vandersnick said in a previous article, there’s “just not enough money to go around”, and this means Davis may be holding out until both sides can resolve the issue.