The Vernon Davis holdout gets a little weirder by the day, and now might officially be entering WTF territory. While at a football camp in Atlanta on Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers tight end spoke with D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and he sort of put a hole in any leverage he might have had (emphasis mine):
Q: How difficult has it been dealing with your contract situation?
A: 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.
This raises all sorts of questions, and I can't imagine we'll get much in the way of answers anytime soon. The first question would have to be whether or not Vernon Davis knows how leverage works in contract negotiations. He did not have a ton of leverage, but the threat of not playing was a pretty useful tool. He is an important piece of the puzzle, and given the questionable depth at tight end, a threat to sit out could at least make the 49ers think about this. Choosing to say, "It's not the end of the world if I don't get it" does not exactly embolden his position.
I've seen numerous suggestions for what this all means. Maybe Vernon and "his people" have no idea what they're doing, maybe Vernon is being forced into this situation, maybe it's a Fantex thing. It could very well be one of those, but it gives me a headache trying to think about it.
One other possibility comes from his comment, "It's moving slowly, but surely." Back in 2011, Frank Gore held out the early part of training camp. He returned a few days later, and by the end of August, he had a new contract. In Vernon's case, one possibility (albeit a small one) is that the 49ers have spoken with his agent, and there might be some potentially good faith negotiations on some kind of extension in the next month or two. Or, a little more realistically, the team told Vernon that this is something they need to wait and talk about after the season given the other contract issues that need to be resolved, but that there would be good faith negotiations this coming offseason.
Now we get to wait and see if Vernon is an on-time arrival at training camp. The 49ers veterans are due back July 23. We'll find out real quick if this is going to turn into a lengthier holdout. Maybe Vernon decides to skip most of training camp to avoid a pre-season injury. Maybe he comes back on day one of camp, and the team moves past this pretty quickly. Frankly, I have no idea what to expect.