It's unclear why it took this long for 49ers tight end Vernon Davis to plainly state he is holding out over contract issues, but he did so on Monday.
Davis hadn't attended OTAs but even last week he told 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area that he planned on coming to the team's mandatory minicamp. That's not the case. In a guest column on MMQB.com, the opening section is titled, "Why I'm Holding Out." I guess that clears it up.
Davis signed a five-year, $37 million deal with $23 million guaranteed in 2010. He thinks he has outperformed that contract.
"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," Davis wrote in MMQB. "It’s not that complicated. I want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, and I want to be on the field this summer working toward that goal, but I have to worry about my future first."
While any player should use whatever leverage he has, does Davis have a good case here? He got his contract in 2010, after putting up a 78-catch, 965-yard, 13-touchdown season in 2009. He has not topped any of those three numbers in the four seasons since. He is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and his $4.7 million base salary this season and his $4.35 million base salary next year (according to Spotrac) aren't all that outrageous for a top tight end. He ranks seventh among tight ends in base salary according to Spotrac, behind lesser players like Jacksonville's Marcedes Lewis and Chicago's Martellus Bennett, so one can see why he might want a raise. However, it's also hard to argue he's significantly underpaid either. But what Davis should be making is almost beside the point, because a holdout is all about how much leverage you have.
Is Davis going to get what he wants by holding out? He is under contract through 2015, and it's highly unlikely he's turning down more than $9 million in salary to make a long-term stand. He already gave up $200,000 in a workout bonus to make his point, and that's a decent amount of money to gamble on a holdout forcing the 49ers to hand him an extension that he wouldn't have gotten anyway. He'll be fined $30,000 a day for every training camp day he misses, if he plans to extend the holdout into camp, and then coming back to the 49ers without a new contract would be really pointless.
In the MMQB column, Davis has a long passage about teaching younger players financial responsibility. He makes great points, and it's an interesting read. One has to wonder, however, if he can't get the 49ers to panic over his holdout and hand over a new deal, is he listening to his own advice?
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