Vernon Davis is the fourth highest-paid tight end in the NFL after the Saints’ Jimmy Graham agreed to a four-year contract worth as much as $40 million, making him the top paid at the position.
Contract numbers always shift some after the initial reports come out. But it’s safe to assume Graham’s numbers – let’s call it a $10 million-per-year average – now become a target for Davis, who was a no-show during the 49ers’ spring practices and is likely to extend his holdout into training camp, with veterans due to report July 23.
“Woohoo! That works for me!” Davis told Maggie Gray on SI Now last month when asked if he wanted to see Graham get a new deal.
Davis’ contract, signed in 2010, averages $7.35 million per season, putting him behind Graham, Dallas’ Jason Witten and New England’s Rob Gronkowski.
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Unlike Graham, Davis can’t argue that he is used more as a wide receiver than a tight end. But, like Graham, he can argue that he has been a huge part of the team’s offense. Davis has been the 49ers’ only true deep threat, and last year he had 15 of the team’s 24 touchdown catches (including the playoffs).
Though Graham lost his grievance hearing over whether he should be treated, financially speaking, as a wide receiver, he ultimately succeeded in raising the value of tight ends.
That appears to be Davis’ argument as well: His position has become more valuable than it was when he signed his deal four years ago, and he is one of the top players at the position.
One key difference between the players: Davis is 30 while Graham is 27.
Another? Graham had reached the final year of his contract while Davis still has two more years on his.
– Matt Barrows
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