Updates from Wednesday, July 23
After skipping the offseason program, losing a $200,00 workout bonus and subjecting himself to up to $70,000 in fines for skipping a mandatory minicamp, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis decided to stop the financial bleeding by showing up for training camp.
Per a league source, his decision to show up for training camp was influenced by multiple factors, including but not limited to $30,000 per day in fines and, after five days, partial signing bonus forfeiture.
The source says Davis still wants a new contract, and he’s "definitely" not OK with proceeding absent a raise. The team reportedly won’t negotiate with players who are holding out.
Earlier, San Francisco 49ers safety C.J. Spillman posted a video on Instagram confirming Vernon Davis' appearance at training camp, as noted by CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco on Twitter:
Vernon Davis has reported to #49ers training camp, as pictures on C.J. Spillman's Instagram account confirm.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) July 23, 2014
Here's a look at the post:
Updates from Wednesday, July 16
All indications are that 49ers tight end Vernon Davis will hold out. For now, I'm told, that is his plan. But let's be clear: That could change.
I'm not so sure—nor are others watching this situation closely—if Davis will walk up to that holdout abyss and actually take the leap. Andre Johnson? Hell yes. He would. Davis? I'm not as certain. This will be interesting to watch.
Updates from Sunday, July 13
NBC's Mike Florio reports whether or not Vernon Davis is currently expected to show up to 49ers training camp:
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that, at the present time, [Vernon] 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.
The 49ers reportedly won’t negotiate with [Alex] Boone or Davis until they show up. If they boycott camp, the team will be able to fine them $30,000 per day and also to pursue a portion of any signing bonus money previously paid.
Updates from Friday, June 27
Davis talked about his holdout to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
It hasn’t been difficult at all. There are no worries. There is nothing that I can stress about. It’s obvious that we want a new contract. I want a new contract. It’s just like any athlete, we all want a new contract. But I’m not going to stress over it. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get it. If I get it, that’s good. It’s moving slowly, but surely. 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. ...
... I pray that Jimmy Graham passes as a wide receiver. Because at the end of the day, if he passes as a wide receiver, that’s better for the rest of the tight ends. He will have opened up a door, a pathway for the rest of the group.
Updates from Tuesday, June 17
Vernon Davis continues to hold out as he looks for a better contract, via Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Wanting a new contract, 49ers TE Vernon Davis no showed for today's mandatory minicamp.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 17, 2014
Updates from Monday, June 16
Vernon Davis has explained his reasons for holding out in an exclusive column for TheMMQB:
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. 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 towards that goal, but I have to worry about my future first. Most of my teammates and many players in the NFL understand that. A few don’t. Behind closed doors, they’ll say they’re all about the team and would run through a brick wall for the organization. But when you look closer, they’re doing things to contradict themselves. I can’t listen to anyone but my family and my advisors, because those are the people who are going to be there when football inevitably dumps me.
Updates from Thursday, June 12
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News has the latest on Davis' holdout:
Tight end Vernon Davis indicated Thursday he doesn’t plan to skip next week’s minicamp the way he has the 49ers’ voluntary workouts.
"It’s mandatory, so I should be there, for sure," Davis said on KNBR 680-AM.
Davis emphasized that the offseason program has otherwise been voluntarily and that his absences shouldn’t be newsworthy. Asked by KNBR host Brian Murphy if he’ll attend next week’s sessions, Davis initially said "it’s a possibility" he’d be at the camp that runs Tuesday through Thursday, serving as the 49ers’ final gathering until training camp begins July 23.
Updates from Thursday, June 5
CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco provides an update from Vernon Davis, who commented about his decision to work out away from the team on Jay Mohr Sports radio.
Every decision that I make is in the best interest of my brand
At the end of the day, sometimes we have to make a business decision. And my decision is to work out on my own and focus on building my brand, as well as balancing everything out.
Bill Williamson of ESPN has more details from Davis, per telephone interview on Thursday:
If it's mandatory, I think I should be there. My foot could get stuck in the grass, and I may not be able to get out ... but if it's mandatory, I think I should be there.
Marc Sessler of NFL: Around the League provides comments from Davis on the Jimmy Graham contract situation:
Woohoo! That works for me! ... You know what? I'm a tight end. I'm a tight end. But I must say, if it happens, then I'm sure every tight end's going to try to follow behind Jimmy Graham.
Davis goes on to speak about the topic of tight ends earning less than top-tier wide receivers, via Mike Triplett of ESPN:
When asked if he feels like tight ends should be paid more like receivers, Davis said, "If you're a guy who's catching a lot of passes and you possess some of the traits that wide receivers have, then yes, I agree. I think that he should get paid like a wide receiver."
Colin Kaeprnick's 6-year deal is worth $110+ million, per sources. Heavy guarantees, too. Record guarantees.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 4, 2014
Updates from Friday, May 30
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Eric Branch has the latest on Davis:
Davis, of course, has not been participating in the 49ers’ voluntary offseason program because of dissatisfaction with his contract, CSN Bay Area reported.
Is that accurate? Davis initially said his agent, Todd France, asked him not to discuss the reason for his absence, which has cost him a $200,000 workout bonus.
The 49ers have one involuntary event before training camp – a minicamp from June 17-19. Will Davis attend the mandatory camp? He offered an answer that was expertly vague.
"I might be there," he said, smiling. "I might not. It’s mandatory. I probably should be there. We’ll see."
Tight end Vernon Davis' absence from the San Francisco 49ers' voluntary offseason workouts seemed harmless enough at first, but it turns out that the two-time Pro Bowler may have ulterior motives.
According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, despite having two years remaining on his current contract, Davis is reportedly leveraging for a new deal.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that while this is news to the public, the Niners have known for a while now:
By the way, the #49ers have known about Vernon Davis’ desire for a new contract for a while, at least back in February. Not news to them.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 29, 2014
Although neither Davis nor agent Todd France has commented publicly, Maiocco is reporting that Davis is unhappy with a contract that will pay him roughly $5 million per year over the next two seasons.
Davis' decision to skip organized team activities means that he is passing on a $200,000 bonus:
TE Vernon Davis forfeits $200K in workout bonuses by not participating in the 49ers' offseason program. http://t.co/53L63XZmEJ— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) May 28, 2014
Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus has more insight on Davis:
Vernon Davis lined up as an inline TE 64.5% of the time last season, so he would not have the same argument that Jimmy Graham does. #49ers— Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) May 29, 2014
Since players generally don't forfeit what essentially amounts to free money, one can only assume that Davis has loftier financial motivations.
One person who seemingly isn't concerned about Davis' absence, though, is Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh. According to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News, Harbaugh simply chalked it up to the voluntary nature of the workouts:
Jim Harbaugh said Vernon Davis hasn't been around 49ers facility much. I asked why & coach invoked workouts are voluntary. Gore here in a.m.— Cam Inman (@CamInman) May 28, 2014
Skipping OTAs is nothing new in the NFL, but things could get interesting in the near future. Mandatory minicamp begins on June 17 for the 49ers, per Maiocco. If Davis opts against attending that as well, then it will send a loud and clear message that he wants to restructure his contract.
There is no question that Davis is a huge key to the 49ers' success as well as the continued development of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He is coming off one of his best NFL seasons with 52 catches for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he was a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses.
How should the 49ers handle the Davis situation?
With that said, the 49ers may opt to call Davis' potential bluff. San Francisco returns wide receiver Anquan Boldin as well as Michael Crabtree, who missed the bulk of the regular season in 2013 due to injury. Throw in the addition of wide receiver Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills, and it is clear that San Francisco has a stacked receiving corps.
That doesn't mean that the 49ers don't desperately want Davis in the fold, but it does give them some added negotiating power.
Davis is still in his prime and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down at the age of 30. It is true that he signed a contract that he is expected to honor, but Davis has been performing at a level higher than his current deal indicates.
Both sides have compelling points to make in this situation, and it will be one of the most intriguing NFL storylines to follow leading up to the preseason.
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