49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis has become the NFL’s most recent Brett Favre, with two annual retirements, and counting. But there won’t be a second unretirement in 2016.
Officially, the 49ers didn’t place Davis on the reserve/retired list. He’s on the exempt/left squad list.
This implies: (1) that Davis left the team; (2) that he received the so-called “five-day” letter explaining that, if he doesn’t return, he’ll be placed on the “left squad” list; and (3) that he didn’t return.
The difference is significant. If Davis were on the reserve/retired list, he could unretire at any time. Placement on the “left squad” list could me that he can’t play for the 49ers or anyone else in 2016.
Meanwhile, Davis will be required to return another chunk of bonus money to the 49ers. He previously paid back the 2015 allocation following his first retirement. He’ll now have to surrender the corresponding portion of his 2016 allocation for the games that he missed.
It still remains unclear why Davis is not longer with the team.
“I did not talk to Anthony,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly told reporters on Thursday. “He came in and talked to [49ers General Manager] Trent [Baalke]. I did not see him. Trent came down and told me what transpired and then Anthony was gone, but I did not talk to him.”
So what did Davis tell Baalke?
“Trent said that it was because of injuries,” Kelly said. “That’s all I know. But it’s probably a good question for Trent. For me to talk specifically about a conversation someone had with someone else, that’s not, I don’t know exactly what transpired. I was just told that’s what was going on and then really the next step for us was what are we doing with the roster spot and all those other things. I’ve reached out to Anthony and gave him a call just to talk to him, but I didn’t connect with him yet.”
Davis had tried to agitate for his release in April, possibly because the 49ers weren’t willing to reimburse the bonus money that he’d refunded in 2015. Eventually, Davis decided to return without being cut and without getting his bonus allocation back. Now that he’s gone again, he’ll lose even more money.
The question now becomes whether Davis will return again in 2017, and whether the 49ers will continue to squat on his rights.
UPDATE 4;11 p.m. ET: The 49ers inform PFT that they placed Davis on the exempt/left squad list in order to clear a roster spot, that he’s in the five-day window, and that if he doesn’t return he’ll go on the reserve/left squad list. At that point, he won’t be eligible to play for the 49ers or anyone else this year.