Davis signed a 5-year contract extension that will kick in after this year, which will make him the highest paid tight end in the league. The deal is worth about $37 million with $23 million guaranteed. This comes as a shock to most because Gates just signed a 5-year extension through 2015, which pays him about $36 million.
There has been a debate about whether Davis deserves a higher contract than Gates or Dallas Clark, so lets go into the numbers and details. Firstly, Davis is only 26 years old, while Gates and Clark are both 30 or older. This means that Davis is entering his prime, while Gates and Clark are seemingly leaving their primes. Gates' numbers have been steady, but dipped in 2008 before his monster campaign last season (in a contract year). Clark slowly climbed his way up Peyton Manning's "nice" list until he finally became the #2 last year with Gonzo's first step of the season and reached career high in receptions and receiving yards. Despite what the numbers say, however, they are not getting better or faster. It's actually more likely that they are getting slower, and will continue to slow down as the years go on. By the time Gates' contract ends, he will be 35. You know what age HOF-er Shannon Sharpe was when he retired? You, guessed it. 35.Granted, he had a pretty good season in his last year with 770 yards and 8 TD's, but it's not like he was putting up "top paid tight end" numbers. Clark's current contract will end when he's 35 as well. Davis' contract? It ends when he's 32. If we look at it from an age standpoint, it seems like we got a pretty good deal.
Secondly, if we look at the number from last year, we can see that Clark and Gates had much better numbers. For those of you that are lazy, Clark put up 100 receptions with 1106 yards and 10 TDs, Gates had 79 receptions with 1157 yards and 8 TDs, and Davis had 78 receptions with 968 yards and 13 TD's. However, look at their team and their situation. Gates was on one of the top passing offenses with Pro-Bowl QB Phillip Rivers throwing to him. And Clark? Forgetaboutit. What about Davis? He had now Detroit back-up Shaun Hill and perennial punch-line Alex Smith throwing to him the whole year. And for those of you who argue that his crappy offense led him to be more of a focal point, Clark had 2 more targets, while Gates had 15 less, meaning that that logic has little relevance. I think if you put Davis on Indianapolis or San Diego, he puts up numbers similar to or better than Gates and Clark. Can you imagine Manning or Rivers throwing to Davis with his 4.37 40-yard dash speed?
Lastly, Davis has been given every negative title from a diva to a bonehead to a loud-mouth. But what does Mike Singletary, the man who banished him to the locker room mid-game two years ago think about him? He thinks Davis is a "great role-model for the team." He thinks Davis can be the face of this team alongside defensive leader Patrick Willis. We all know the kind of players that Mike Singletary loves, and that's hard working, dedicated, competitive and passionate. If his passion leads him to be a loud-mouth some of the time, so be it. What's so wrong about having a guy who loves competing so much that he thrives on every catch he records (aside from the stupid penalties he used to take). It's better than having a slacker in the film room, or an alleged rapist, or a Pacman Jones. This might be from residual feelings left over from the whole T.O. debacle, but get over it. Davis isn't T.O. and never will be stupidity-wise.
In the end, this is a great deal for the 49ers. Davis will continue to improve, and if the rest of the offense minus Frank Gore can get it together, he will be a force for the duration of the contract. In 3 or 4 years, we won't be talking about how large his contract is anyway the way the player raises are going now-a-days. We'll just be talking about how we have one of the best tight ends in football.
(I don't want to be accused of blog marketing here, but if you like this article, I've written similar ones on my friend's small website BreatheBay.com. Seriously, I don't care if you go or not, it's just information at your disposal.)