Vernon Davis Becomes Highest Paid Tight End, But Is He Worthy?

Ryan CookFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2010

It's odd to find a player willing to sit back on his contract, and let whatever happens happen when it comes to money and his overall payroll entering the 2010 regular season.

But luckily for all NFL fans, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has shone a new beacon of light onto the league, as his laid-back attitude towards his contract with the team has finally paid off in the long run.

In the past six months, just about every NFL fan knew that sooner or later Davis' contract talks would flair up.  What each and every NFL fan didn't expect to though was to see Davis display a seemingly careless attitude, as it appeared from the very beginning that money wasn't his biggest concern at this point in his career.

When asked about his possible salary increase several months ago, Davis answered with numerous commendable answers, and when asked about his contract extension, he simply claimed that the issue hadn't played on his mind.

To this very day, Vernon Davis' attitude hasn't changed, even after a new deal has been reached.  "I didn't let it bother me," Davis said. "I prayed about it. My grandmother prayed about it."

So after all of the 49ers worries surrounding Vernon Davis recently, it appears that a simple bout of patience has been the best remedy to help Vernon Davis achieve his ultimate potential. 

If only Darrelle Revis had taken on this attitude.

But how much is Vernon Davis set to earn in upcoming years?

Well to be quite frank, Vernon Davis is now the highest paid tight end in professional football, as his new deal sees him earn the sum of $37 million for up to five years, with a total $23 million guaranteed. 

I guess we can all agree now that this deal is mighty impressive, but a serious question must be asked in regards to whether or not Vernon Davis is truly worthy of this type of cash, as there are perhaps much more talented tight ends in the game right now.

To give some strong examples, the likes of Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark come to mind. 

Now, while both of these guys are on a considerable amount of money given today's standards, in comparison to the salary that Vernon Davis is now set to earn, both Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark look a little short in terms of dollar bills.

For those fans that remember, Dallas Clark successfully signed a deal in 2008 that saw him earn the sum of $4.5 million a year over in Indianapolis.  Don't get me wrong, this is great money, but surely a Super Bowl champion would have the right to debate why he is earning a little less cash in comparison to a player who only has five years of experience under his belt.

While on the other hand, impressive San Diego Chargers standout Antonio Gates is currently set to earn the sum of $24 million for his efforts in the future.  This deal was reached back in 2005, the very year that Vernon Davis entered the league.  Of course, Antonio Gates did have to hold out to achieve this money, but there is no doubt that he is well worth it these days.

Many of you may be reading this and thinking that I am somehow criticizing Vernon Davis; well, I assure you I am not. 

It is important, however, to keep in mind that Davis did record 965 yards last season, along with 13 very vital touchdowns for the San Francisco 49ers.

But when you look at the stats of both of Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark, the same argument could be made in their defense. 

Last season saw Dallas Clark crack the 1,000-plus yard mark for the first time in his career, and he was also successful in contributing 10 total touchdowns to the Colts' Super Bowl run in 2009. 

As for Antonio Gates, well it's no secret that he to had a very successful year.  Gates was yet again amongst the 1,000-plus yard breakers in 2009, and with his eight touchdowns, he can certainly match Vernon Davis' efforts in the state of California.

For the most part the expensive contracts that are in seen in the NFL these days are quite irrelevant.  It's a breath of fresh air to see a player such as Vernon Davis ignore dollar bills, and focus on his play on the field.

At the same time though, big time contracts can affect players that are arguably as talented as the higher paid man, and the same could be said for Darrelle Revis' efforts to become the highest paid cornerback in the league.

Fortunately for all of us, Vernon Davis has avoided the diva mentality, and has kept a fresh outlook on his career this season.

"Being the highest-paid tight end at my position says a lot but when it comes down to it I'm not playing the game for money. It's about passion," Davis said. "I didn't let it get to me because the only thing I could focus on is football. One thing about me once the season starts, I'm 100 percent football and that's all."

Like all of us it appears that Vernon Davis really is 100 percent football.  The fans in San Francisco love him, and at the end of the day he is one of the better tight ends to lace up the boots in the modern day era of the game.

Still, perhaps the extra figures in his overall salary do discredit Dallas Clark, Antonio Gates, and other talented tight ends such as Jermichael Finley and Jason Witten in the league.

It is unlikely that these added decimals will play on the minds of any of these guys this season, but if Vernon Davis gets a few extra dollars, why don't the rest of the players?

I guess that's the mystery of the NFL and the contract system.

As for Vernon Davis, let's not forget how controversial this player once was in his early days with San Francisco.  It is only recently that he has come out of his shell and become a true team leader, so perhaps that is the reason that head coach Mike Singletary had decided to reward him for his change of heart.

Last year Vernon Davis led the 49ers in receptions, and despite his recent feud with Michael Crabtree in team practice, has become a well-rounded tight end, particularly when it comes to catching and blocking for quarterback Alex Smith.

After head coach Mike Singletary was asked about his efforts, he only further outlined how vital Davis is to this team.

"Vernon is a guy, if you find a guy who comes in and he's one of hardest-working guys on your team if not the hardest-working guy on your team, what's going to change him?" Singletary said to the media. "That's been the mark of Vernon Davis since he got here."

Forget his controversial ways for now, Vernon Davis appears to be on the straight and narrow.  He joins the likes of Patrick Willis as one of the higher paid players in San Francisco, yet leaves the rest of the NFL's tight ends behind in terms of added zeros.

Will he perform better this season?

Davis did have a reasonably great year last season, so the odds say that he will be an even better player this time around.

If he avoids controversy, this contract raise should boost his confidence.  If that doesn't happen, hey, at least the 49ers have yet another solid receiver to rely on, right?


Ryan Cook is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also an NFL columnist for Real Sports Net and a Green Bay Packers writer for Fan Huddle and PackerChatters. Ryan is also a contributing writer for Detroit Lions Talk, Gack Sports and Generation Y Sports.  Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.


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