Comparing Davis to other tight ends

My old colleague Matt Maiocco reported for Comcast SportsNet this morning that the 49ers and tight end Vernon Davis are set to enter negotiations on a contract extension.

With Patrick Willis locked up through 2016, Davis – whose contract expires after this season – logically figures as the next Niner in line for a big payday. He’s a vital cog in the offense, and Davis is confident he can reach an agreement with his current team. He sent the following tweet a couple hours ago: “We got plenty of time y’all I’ll sign an extension soon I’m sure don’t worry I’m in 100%.”

 

Who needs punctuation when you’re on the verge of a mega-contract? The real question is: How much money will Davis command?

Here are the eight highest-paid tight ends in the NFL, along with their receptions/yards/touchdowns in 2009. Dollar figures are base salary only for 2010; age is at the start of the 2010 regular season. Keep in mind that tight end is the most lowly compensated position in the NFL, except for punters and kickers.

Kellen Winslow, TB, 27 years old  $6.721 million
77/884/5

VERNON DAVIS, SF, 26  $5.7 million
78/965/13

Bo Scaife, Ten., 29  $4.908 million
45/440/1

Tony Gonzalez, Atl., 34  $4.5 million
83/867/6

Dallas Clark, Ind., 31  $4 million
100/1,106/10

Todd Heap, Balt., 30  $4 million
53/593/6

Daniel Graham, Den., 31  $3.8 million
28/289/1

Jason Witten, Dal., 28  $2.64 million
94/1,030/2

As you can see, Davis isn’t cheap at it is. But looking at the numbers, you could make a decent argument that he should be the league’s highest-paid tight end. His main competitors should probably be Clark, Heap and Witten. All three of them are more consistent receivers than Davis. But he is younger than the other three, and a better blocker. The only NFL tight end who can match Davis physically, in my opinion, is Winslow, and he has been a detriment off the field.

The current high-water mark for tight ends is the six-year, $36 million package Clark got in February 2008, a deal that supposedly includes as much as $20 million in guarantees. Clark was 29 when he signed it, three years older than Davis is now, and we’ve had two years of salary growth. So, yeah, you would expect Davis to top Clark’s contract.

Comcast SportsNet reported that Davis is seeking a five-year deal worth $40 million, with $25 million guaranteed. There will be some negotiating, for sure, but that doesn’t seem too far off the mark for a player of Davis’ talents.