While this is not 49ers news, it is something that will certainly play into the 49ers long term plans. TE Brent Celek has reportedly agreed to a 6-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles worth $33 million, with $11 million guaranteed. I bring this up because our own monster TE Vernon Davis is signed through the 2010 season. If the 49ers intend to lock him up, the numbers are probably starting to fall into place. First, a quick comparison of Celek and Davis this season:
Celek: 54 receptions, 601 yards, 5 TDs, 8 catches of 20+ yards
Davis: 57 receptions, 670 yards, 9 TDs, 10 catches of 20+ yards
Celek, like Davis, is in the midst of a breakout season. The former 5th round pick certainly didn't come with the fanfare of Vernon Davis, but he's steadily improved and become a huge weapon for Donovan McNabb this season. If the 49ers do extend Davis at some point, I think it's safe to say it will end up being more than Celek's contract. I say this because I think Davis is a greater all around weapon than Celek, and also because of the fact that as time passes, contracts continue to inflate. Of course, this can be countered with the fact that we're looking at a whole lot of labor instability in the NFL, so who really knows what that means for contracts.
Just for the heck of it, I thought I'd pull up the contracts of some of the other elite tight ends in the NFL (with date it was signed in parentheses). These are from Rotoworld, which I consider a solid source, although obviously there's no guarantees on accuracy:
Dallas Clark (2/2/08): 6 years, $36 million - looks like $11 or so million was guaranteed
Jason Witten (7/22/06): 6 years, $29 million - $12 million guaranteed
Antonio Gates (8/30/05): 6 years, $24 million - $10.5 million guaranteed
Tony Gonzalez (1/12/06): 5 years $35 million - $17.75 million guaranteed
At this point, I'd imagine Dallas Clark is Davis's starting point for a contract. Of course, I'd imagine Vernon will be asking for more than that. If he continues his development at its new pace, one could argue he's well on his way to becoming the best tight end in the NFL. Heck, in my fantasy league with no PPR and basic scoring stats (where I snagged him for a 12th round pick and can keep him as a 12th rounder next year!), Davis is the highest scoring tight end in the league by 7 points over Dallas Clark. While Davis might not be using those fantasy numbers in his contract negotiations, it goes to show how far the man has come.
The only way I see Davis's contract value going up is if he goes into next season and puts up similar, or better numbers than this year to show an ability to be consistently great. The 49ers have done a good job signing young players to contract extensions, but they definitely missed the boat with Vernon Davis. If Davis and his agent told the 49ers he was going to wait to sign an extension, well then Davis is a smart individual. Either way, we'll see how long it takes for the 49ers to get a deal worked out, if it happens at all any time soon.