Vernon Davis contract: What might the 49ers consider in the next deal?

Grant Halverson

The San Francisco 49ers have plenty to consider as they try and keep their salary cap house in order. Could Vernon Davis be in line for a contract extension sooner rather than later? We break down a hypothetical extension.

The San Francisco 49ers were busy the first week of free agency, but things have quieted down to some extent. The 49ers have $3.7 million in cap space, with another $6.6 million due to come free on June 1st when Carlos Rogers' contract comes off the books.

The 49ers have a variety of extensions due for players hitting free agency in 2014. They will have room this summer to make some deals happen, but they also could find ways to clear a little more space if needed. One player I wanted to discuss is tight end Vernon Davis.

Davis is currently signed through the 2015 season. He signed the 6-year contract in September 2010, and has a $7,342,916 salary cap number for 2014. His number is made up $2,067,916 in prorated signing bonus money, $4.7 million base salary, a roster bonus worth $375,000, and a $200,000 workout bonus.

While Davis isn't getting any younger, his production is still among the best tight ends in the NFL. I would not be surprised if the 49ers extend Davis in the near future. It will not necessarily happen this offseason, but it should be a priority soon.

Davis' contract, which is worth a total of $36.75 million, is currently ranked third among current tight end contracts. He trails only Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten. Davis has $11.112 million in guaranteed money in his current contract, while Gronkowski has $13.17 million, and Witten has $13.532 million. Some could say Davis is a more complete TE then either of those 2. I'm not here to compare their production, as everyone knows all three of these tight ends are among the top 5-10 at the position.

Obviously the next big contract for a tight end will be for Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints. He is one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL, and that could lead to some issues in his contract negotiations. He has been franchised as a tight end, but he is likely going to challenge it to be as a wide receiver instead. A wide receiver tender is worth $5 million more than a tight end, so it is obvious why he would want that.

Here is a breakdown of Jason Witten's contract, followed by Rob Gronkowski's contract.

Jason Witten

Year

Base

Prorated

Roster

Workout

Other

Cap

Salary

Bonus

Bonus

Bonus

Bonus

Number

2012

$2,000,000

$3,500,000

$0

$0

$0

$5,500,000

2013

$940,000

$3,412,000

$0

$0

$0

$4,352,000

2014

$5,000,000

$3,412,000

$0

$0

$0

$8,412,000

2015

$5,100,000

$3,412,000

$0

$0

$0

$8,512,000

2016

$6,500,000

$912,000

$0

$0

$0

$7,412,000

2017

$7,400,000

$912,000

$0

$0

$0

$8,312,000

Rob Gronkowski

Year

Base

Prorated

Roster

Workout

Other

Cap

Salary

Bonus

Bonus

Bonus

Bonus

Number

2012

$540,000

$2,090,000

$0

$30,000

$0

$2,660,000

2013

$630,000

$2,090,000

$0

$30,000

$0

$2,750,000

2014

$3,750,000

$1,650,000

$0

$0

$0

$5,400,000

2015

$4,750,000

$3,650,000

$0

$250,000

$0

$8,650,000

2016

$2,250,000

$3,650,000

$500,000

$250,000

$0

$6,650,000

2017

$4,250,000

$2,000,000

$500,000

$250,000

$0

$7,000,000

2018

$8,000,000

$2,000,000

$750,000

$250,000

$0

$11,000,000

2019

$9,000,000

$2,000,000

$750,000

$250,000

$0

$12,000,000

I think the best option for Davis and the 49ers is to reach an agreement that lowers his 2014 base salary to the veteran minimum. As an 8-year veteran, that would be $855,000. Then, the deal would convert the rest of his salary into a signing bonus, and add on up to 4 additional years, signing him through 2019.

Lowering Davis' salary to the minimum leaves $3.845 in salary  difference. In turning that difference into a signing bonus, it would prorate out over the remainder of the deal for cap purposes. Over the five seasons, that prorates to $769,000. His salary cap number would go from $7,342,916, down to $4,266,916, and create $3.076 million in salary cap room. I would also add in an 2016 option bonus, worth $5 million, which prorates to $1.25 million a year. His new deal would have a guarantee of $14 million, as I would guarantee his 2014 and 2015 base salaries.

Here's a breakdown of what his next contract could look like.

Year

Cap Number

Base

New SB

Old SB

Option Bonus

Roster

Workout

2014

$4,266,916

$855,000

$769,000

$2,067,916

$0

$375,000

$200,000

2015

$7,786,920

$4,350,000

$769,000

$2,067,920

$0

$400,000

$200,000

2016

$7,619,000

$5,000,000

$769,000

$0

$1,250,000

$400,000

$200,000

2017

$8,119,000

$5,500,000

$769,000

$0

$1,250,000

$400,000

$200,000

2018

$8,369,000

$5,750,000

$769,000

$0

$1,250,000

$400,000

$200,000

2019

$7,850,000

$6,000,000

$0

$0

$1,250,000

$400,000

$200,000

Totals

$44,010,836

I'm hopeful that the 49ers will get a deal done with Davis, I just don't know when it will happen, hopefully soon.

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