Vernon Davis Lacks Leverage in Current Holdout

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis signed a five-year, $36.75 million extension with the team back in 2011. The long-awaited extension came following a season that saw Davis put up over 900 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. 

Fast forward four years, and Davis is unhappy with his current deal. He’s set to earn just $4.7 million in 2014, but has already been paid all but $9 million of the contract he signed back in 2011.

The Pro Bowl tight end has already acknowledged that he’s unlikely to receive an extension from the 49ers (via CSN Bay Area).

At the end of the day, if I don’t get the deal, at least I tried and I put my foot down. If I don’t get it at the moment, I’m not going to lose any sleep.

Courtesy of The Huffington Post

Courtesy of The Huffington Post

As Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area suggests, the 49ers are unlikely to hold any extension negotiations with potential holdouts until they report to camp. He points to a recent situation with veteran running back Frank Gore.

Frank Gore was entering the final year of his contract. He wanted some reassurance that the team planned on him to remain around for future seasons. So Gore opted to remain in Miami while his teammates got to work in Santa Clara.

Here’s what was learned from that episode: The 49ers were willing to enter into good-faith negotiations on a new deal with Gore’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, only after Gore reported to training camp.

The two sides came to an agreement on a long-term extension only after Gore reported to training camp that summer.

So a player that doesn’t expect to receive an extension and a team that won’t negotiate an extension until said player reports to camp. Sounds like there is an easy fix to this situation, right?


Davis has not attended any of the 49ers offseason activities, including mandatory minicamp earlier this summer. He was fined $70,000 for missing mandatory camp and forfeited a $200,000 workout bonus by missing other organized team activities.

It seems Davis is still willing to play hard ball, as reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that, at the present time, Davis would not be reporting. That doesn’t mean he won’t show; with nine days to go, Davis can change his mind and change it back again a few times or more before the time comes to report for duty.

Davis will be fined $30,000 for every day that he doesn’t show up for training camp. The issue with Davis playing hardball, outside of losing out on a ton of money, is that he doesn’t necessarily have a lot of leverage. With two years still remaining in his deal, Davis doesn’t have many options. He can holdout of training camp, forfeiting thousands of dollars per day. He can holdout into the season, which would cost him even more money. And he can actually report to camp with the understanding that San Francisco will negotiate a new deal with him.

That’s about it.

A new wrinkle was added to this entire situation when the New Orleans Saints and Jimmy Graham agreed to a four-year, $40 million extension earlier in the week.

On the surface, a deal that calls for $10 annually for Graham would be outstanding for Davis as it relates to this contract stalemate. That’s just on the surface. While Graham’s deal is $2.8 million more per season than what Davis received four years ago, the latter actually got more guaranteed money in his deal ($23 million). Taking into account salary cap increases and the new CBA, this is a highly interesting development.

Is Davis a better all-around football player than Graham? An argument could actually be made for this. With that said, he received $2 million more in guaranteed money four years ago than a tight end that put up 1,215 yards and a league-leading 16 touchdowns last season.

If Davis’ primary goal is to add years on to a deal that expires following the 2015 season, it makes much more sense for him to report to camp and then deal with the business side. The longer he holds out, the less San Francisco will be inclined to sit down with him this year. At which point, negotiations are pushed off until the 2015 offseason when a 31-year-old Davis will be in the same exact situation.

Photo: USA Today