Vernon Davis isn’t holding out, per se. He’s just protecting his brand and his interests. That’s what he told reporters last week and that appears to be the story to which Davis is sticking. Now, it appears that Davis is taking his statements one step further.
It’s not just about his brand. There’s also the whole issue of respect through dollar signs.
Davis took to MMQB this week as a substitute for the vacationing Peter King and wrote a very insightful, interesting column in King’s place. There is a lot of great perspective on some issues inside, but for the sake of brevity, we’ll stick to the contract talk. Davis said this in the MMQB piece.
In 2010 I signed a five-year, $37 million contract extension with $23 million guaranteed. It was the biggest contract for a tight end in league history. Four years later, and I’m playing at a higher level than I was then, which brings me to why I’m holding out.
It’s all about getting paid what you deserve.
The problem for Davis is that, like most NFL contracts, the guaranteed money was sapped up in the early years and now Davis is playing for little more than a base salary in the last two years of his deal.
He wants a new deal because he’s still Vernon Davis, but he’s also the one who signed the deal and holds little leverage against San Francisco management.
This is a tough spot for both sides. The 49ers signed Davis to this deal precisely because of what they’d get in the final two years.
They had the cap space for Davis in their era of mediocrity between Steve Young’s time at quarterback and Jim Harbaugh’s time on the sideline and now that the team is elite, they can save money on the back-end.
Davis has the talent to stretch the field for the 49er offense, but is it worth it to tie your franchise to him for more years if he’s not irreplaceable? That will be the question driving 49ers management’s next move as the NFL offseason plods through the summer grind.