Vernon Davis admits he’s “holding out” for a new contract

Getty Images

When 49ers tight end Vernon Davis addressed earlier this month the connection between his decision to stay away from offseason workouts and his desire for a new contract, he downplayed the idea that he wants more money.

It’s not really about looking for the deal,” Davis explained in a CNBC interview focused on his new venture with Fantex, which has converted him into a commodity with shares that can be bought and sold.  “Everything I do is in the best interest of building my brand.  I’m not really looking at it from a deal standpoint.  It’s just how can I use leverage and continue to build my brand.”

Filling in on Monday for the vacationing Peter King of, Davis admits that, it really is about looking for the deal.

“In 2010 I signed a five-year, $37 million contract extension with $23 million guaranteed,” Davis writes.  “It was the biggest contract for a tight end in league history.  Four years later, and I’m playing at a higher level than I was then, which brings me to why I’m holding out.  It’s all about getting paid what you deserve.  It’s not that complicated.  I want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, and I want to be on the field this summer working towards that goal, but I have to worry about my future first.  Most of my teammates and many players in the NFL understand that.  A few don’t.  Behind closed doors, they’ll say they’re all about the team and would run through a brick wall for the organization.  But when you look closer, they’re doing things to contradict themselves.  I can’t listen to anyone but my family and my advisors, because those are the people who are going to be there when football inevitably dumps me.”

On one hand, Davis made his bed in 2010, agreeing to a deal that committed him to the team but that didn’t commit the team to him beyond the truly guaranteed money at signing.  He could have insisted on a shorter-term extension.  He didn’t.  Now, he must honor the deal, even if he thinks he has outplayed it.

On the other hand, the folks who own NFL teams didn’t get to that point without using all available leverage in order to obtain a better financial position at virtually every possible turn.  For Davis, his leverage comes from withholding services at a time when no financial penalty applies — other than the $200,000 workout bonus he has squandered.

He’s recently said he won’t lose another $70,000 by failing to report for a mandatory minicamp.  But if Davis truly intends to hold out (as he uses that term), he should skip the minicamp and not show up for training camp, either.  Of course, that would cost him $30,000 per day.

Actually, it would cost him only $27,000, since his Fantex “investors” now get 10 percent of his earnings.  And that’s another contractual commitment Davis eventually will regret.

Writing in the column about his long-term career objectives, Davis admits that “in 10 years my goal is to host my own show, start acting, and continue to build a business empire.”  If Davis succeeds, he’ll rue the day he opted to take $4 million in return for 10 percent of all brand-related earnings for the rest of his life.

So if he wakes up in a decade as the host of a daytime talk show with a smattering of seven-figure acting gigs and realizes that a dime of every dollar disappears before it ever lands in his wallet, Davis may consider holding out of his Fantex deal.  Until he realizes that, in that context, there’s nothing to hold out from.

That’s why the Fantex deals make little sense.  By taking the money up front and committing to the sharing of future earnings, the player essentially bets against himself.  So if he ultimately wins over the long haul, he loses a ton of money along the way.

69 responses to “Vernon Davis admits he’s “holding out” for a new contract

  1. “I can’t listen to anyone but my family and my advisors, because those are the people who are going to be there when football inevitably dumps me.”

    LOL of course your family is telling you to hold out for more money. They know more money for you means more money they can leech off of you!

  2. The player doesn’t necessarily lose. If he takes the $4 million and invests it he could easily make up the 10% of his future earnings. That’s a big “if ” though

  3. “In 2010 I signed a five-year, $37 million contract extension with $23 million guaranteed,” Davis writes. “It was the biggest contract for a tight end in league history.”


    And now he wants more and is only doing it for his family. Right.

    Probowlers on rookie contracts get to complain. The guy who signed the biggest contract for a TE in league history does not.

  4. lol the 49er window keeps getting smaller i said it after last seasons playoff loss you heard it from me first just dont forget that 🙂

  5. Davis signed the contract, it works both ways.

    If he had a poor season you ‘surprisingly’ never hear any player saying ‘i havent played up to the level of my contract, so because of this i’ll give back part of my bonus or i’ll accept a lower deal the following year as i cant justify the high salary’.

  6. I had to read the last couple of paragraphs more than once to understand what you’re saying, and I still don’t think I get it.

  7. This won’t be a popular opinion. If a player underperforms, the team can just rip up the contract. (Except for fully guaranteed money, not the bogus “guaranteed… for injury only” money.) Even if a player overperforms (e.g. DeSean Jackson) the team can just rip up his contract.

    So here is a player who, at least in his own mind, has outperformed his contract. But somehow he is honor-bound to fulfill a contract that the team could, if it wanted, unilaterally rip up today anyway?

  8. Good for you for being confident and listening to family and friends. But two things:

    1. I hate holdouts. Yes, I know the teams hold all the power and contracts mean almost nothing in terms of security. But you signed the deal, champ. Play out your deal and make yourself indispensable…THAT’S how you get more money.

    2. Some of these quotes dude…building your brand, your business empire? Again, good for believing in yourself, but tone it down. Has someone told you you have acting talent at all? Host your own show…on what? These are great goals, and perhaps you’ll rewliaze them. But when you say it like this, I can help but thnk you’re the same arrogant, entitled little boy you were when Singletary sent you to the showers. Think those things…say them to your inner circle. Don’t tell the press. It’s bad form.

  9. “By taking the money up front and committing to the sharing of future earnings, the player essentially bets against himself”

    Many successful businesses do this, it’s risk management. Essentially, he’s making sure that if none of these lofty ambitions are realized he still has $4m, which he could save/invest wisely (admittedly there’s no guarantee he has done this).

    How many ex-NFL players have achieved the goals he mentioned? The only one that jumps to mind is Strahan. Those aren’t great odds.

  10. “Everything I do is in the best interest of building my brand.

    At least he’s not trying to pretend he cares about his team.

  11. Greed. No getting around this. Now he expects SF to pay for his bonehead move. They fronted him the cash,he spent it on something dumb and probably is a California resident,so they taxed his socks off. I’m sure his “investors” saw a chump when he made himself available. Invest in yourself huh. Not once did the “Vernon Davis Show” cross my mind or did I envision him co-starring with Mark Wahlberg. The Niner brass must be laughing in their suits now.

  12. Brand my ass! Vernon is becoming too big for the NFL in his own mind. I tend to lose respect for people when GREED sets in!

    To the a-hole who keeps deleting my posts, my nick is slang for a removable fuel can spout. If you can’t understand that then you have a dirty mind

  13. The whole Fantex thing seems so ridiculous. I can’t believe any player would sign up for this.

  14. The Fantex deal is not betting against one’s self. It is insurance. Only with this type of insurance, you get paid the claim up front, and then pay the premiums until you stop working.

    It only makes sense for athletes in specific circumstances. For example, running backs can have a very short career — but be relatively famous for that short period. Icky Woods? While fame is at its peak, taking an upfront payment based on current name-recognition might make sense.

    In Vernon’s case, I think he made a mistake unless he needed the $4M for some special opportunity.

  15. 3,2,1 For the comments about the greedy players and they shouldn’t ask for more money from Billionaire owners. lol

  16. 1. the odds of him actually succeeding with an acting or television career are really low, and he doesn’t lose any money until after he has made 40 million post Fantex. So, actually the deal isn’t bad and is kind of an insurance policy.
    2. “playing at a higher level” now means he need more money? I think at most he has just grown as a player with more experience, not vastly outperfomed a now-insulting contract. I don’t have a lot sympathy for that viewpoint. If you want market value every year, sign one year deals. A multi-year deal is another kind of insurance policy against injury, underperformance, etc. If you wanted the security of a multi-year deal, honor the contract you signed.

  17. Hey Vernon,

    No everyday 9-5er wants to hear about what you deserve. You are lucky enough to be rich playing a child’s game. You make over SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS a YEAR to play this game and YOU agreed to the contract that isn’t set to expire yet. I think I speak for most everyone when I say, shut your mouth and get to work so maybe, when that contract you signed in 2010 runs out, you’ll be able to sign another one that’ll help “build your brand” even more.

  18. In 2010 I signed a five-year, $37 million contract extension with $23 million guaranteed.

    Then ..

    but I have to worry about my future first.

    How do the rest of us who don’t earn 7.5 million per year live!

    And this:
    I can’t listen to anyone but my family and my advisors, because those are the people who are going to be there when football inevitably dumps me.

    Um yeah, that and 30 million friends. What a joke.

  19. Is he an idiot??? Back when he signed that deal he had one good year since coming into the league. In fact if he remembers correctly the 49ers not once but twice made him the highest paid TE in the league. The first time was when he was drafted and the second when they extended him. Again at the time when they have him that extension he had had one good year so he hadn’t outperformed anything he’s just living up to what they have already given him! Somebody should explain that to him because he’s never been the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. Also interesting he said “most” of my teammates understand. Hmm wonder which ones don’t? Hey I love you Vernon but for a guy that fashions himself as a team guy and someone that believes he’s matured immensely since he was kicked off the field he’s had a lot of selfish statements lately. On one hand I get it the NFL will chew you up and spit you out get what you can get but use some commonsense. On the other hand you have been paid quite well before you ever earned it and your still paid top 3 money at your position with two years left and you just turned 30. I got why don’t you do something anything against Seattle except leave hurt then maybe…..never mind just play out your deal bro.

  20. Most NFL tight ends, you never hear of again after they retire.
    His “brand” will be worthless the minute he hangs ’em up.
    Hasn’t he said for years that Singletary changed him from being a selfish player into a leader?
    So much for that.

  21. NFL teams don’t “rip up” contracts. That would mean they keep the player but pay him less. They release players, allowing them to go to whatever team they want and get paid as much as they can get. That has how the NFL has worked forever. They don’t have fully guaranteed deals. That may seem unfair, but that is what their union has negotiated. If a player wants “market value” each and every year, then they could sign a series of one year contracts. But nobody does that because you may find your market value is now lower because of age, performance, injury, attitude, arrests, etc. So my feeling is if you wanted the “insurance policy” of a multi-year deal, then don’t be surprised to find there is a cost to that. That is sort of like paying auto insurance and then demanding the premiums back when you went a year without an accident. Try telling Geico “I’ve outperformed my contract”

  22. Only 37 million for 5 years? Poor guy.

    He claims he has to worry about his future when 3 million is plenty enough that you wouldn’t have to work again.

  23. A 37 million dollar contract, plus another 4 million from Fantex, and this guy is holding out??

    What kind of moronic lifestyle do you have to have to blow through that kind of cash and still need more? The guy is a tight end … he plays on some downs, and on others he’s not even on the field – why does he need a raise?

    This fool should be set for life as it is …

  24. So I’m to understand that he got $23 million guaranteed in 2010 and he’s worried about his future? SERIOUSLY!!!!???? I can’t imagine the average poster on this site will make over a million in their life time and most of us raise families, send children to school and save for retirement. It pisses me off to know end to hear millionaires whining about being paid what they are worth! Is catching a football worth more than a doctor that could potentially save your life? Is it worth more than the teacher educating our kids? Is it worth more than the farmer raising food for us all to eat?

    Real facts- The owners will give the players their money and then raise ticket and concession prices to cover their losses, so you and I end up funding these cry babies. Secondly, after getting their kings ransom, most of these jerks will be filing bankruptcy five years after they retire.

    I live and die for football season, but enough is enough!

  25. He signs the biggest contract ever for a TE in the history of the game.

    The guaranteed money stops coming, and he forgets that the guarantee was for 5 years, and not for 3. Then asks for more money because his huge bonus checks arent coming any more.

    Guess what? You signed that huge contract with a 5 year guarantee bonus. It wasnt a signing bonus for 2 years.

    Do you plan on giving 40% of that guaranteed money back if they give you a new contract?

    I hate players that hold out in this scenario. It isnt like he is being vastly underpaid. In fact, he isnt being underpaid at all.

    I actually like Vernon Davis as a player. But I hope the 49ers fine the heck out of him and let the fines stick and force him to play his contract out. Shouldnt have signed a 5 year deal if you only wanted a 3 year deal. They would have given you the appropriate signing bonus then.

  26. For anyone that wants to argue that the teams can cut the player at anytime, we work under the same deal. Its called getting fired and most of us won’t be having other companies (teams) offering us million dollar or hundred thousand dollar contracts to come work for them after we’re canned.
    Also, if he invests wisesly and and creates a financial trust to care for his family into the future and insures himself properly (with $23 million guaranteed Vernon Davis can afford too), he and his family should be fine the rest of their lives.

  27. The focus is not on football for Mr. Davis so I believe the 49ers will eventually move on from him. Hall of Famers will tell you that you are either all in or all out in the NFL.

  28. Isn’t it more like 15-20%? His agent gets paid, too. That Fantex thing is just a bad idea for public figures to get in to.

  29. The reality is that he is not worth a dime more than his current contract, and you could easily debate whether or not he’s even worth the amount he’s getting paid now.

  30. Dude is a cry baby. Remember when they beat the Saints and his supposed ‘the grab’, which he named himself? I really lost a lot of respect when he named his catch himself.

    Why don’t you quit football and go back to your pedantic art you narcissistic twit.

    Otherwise, shut up and honor your contract.

  31. Unless they become an analyst on TV, do these guys ever succeed financially and professionally after they’re done playing? Davis only has a “brand” because he plays football — once he’s done, his brand will be about as valuable as Polaroid is now.

  32. He just wants to be one of those actor-talk show host- business empire builder. It may not be as easy as he makes it sound. Looking at his Fantex deal (only $4 million dollars for 10% of all his future earnings) he is not as smart as he thinks he is.

  33. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew when I saw him on ESPN a few weeks ago, he just reeked of being full of bull.

  34. NFL players union is so WEAK, these guys need to look out for themselves, I have no problem with what he is doing. He needs to make it while he’s worth it. Look at all the NFL players over 30 years old playing on one and two year non-guaranteed contracts. That’s why you have your kids play baseball.

  35. When he says that he is listening to family, I’m reminded that Vontae Davis is his brother and Vontae had to call Grandma as soon as he was traded.
    Off the field Vontae behaves like a twelve year old child (I’m not joking), is he Vernon’s family advisor or is it Grandma?

  36. It’s probably his agent and family telling him he needs more money. Vernon isn’t smart enough to make his own decisions. Heck of an athlete, he’s just not all there upstairs. Seems like a nice guy, but has maturity issues, like a lot of NFL millionaires. Hope he finds some smarter people to help him with his decisions.

  37. The whiners are going to lose him… They had better pay up, oh thats right they cant thanks to a mediocre QB taking all the money.

  38. So what has he done to outplay his contract? I saw a few too many missed and dropped passes in the playoffs and the Superbowl. The 9ers should let this idiot holdout for as long as he wants. I’d rather have an average player with heart than a diva any day.

  39. Somebody clarify this Fantex thing for me. I thought it was 10% of all future football related income. So they’d get 10% of income received from playing football and any future endeavors revolved around the sport (i.e., a retired analyst on one of the many NFL-related shows), but nothing if the player decides to earn income away from the sport. Am I mistaken?

  40. For anyone that wants to argue that the teams can cut the player at anytime, we work under the same deal. Its called getting fired and most of us won’t be having other companies (teams) offering us million dollar or hundred thousand dollar contracts to come work for them after we’re canned.


    The difference is you can also take your skills to another company willing to offer you more money at any time.

    If Vernon Davis were a salesman, and one of the best in his field, he could hold his employers hostage at will for more money with constant threats to take his skills elsewhere. He would have headhunters contacting him constantly offering better opportunities, which he could take at his leisure, because he wouldn’t be working for a cartel which works to keep employees in one place and hold down salaries.

    This is the mistake people make. They get so blinded by their jealousy over the numbers that they don’t strip it down and look at the realities. The reality is that if Vernon Davis were a free agent right now, someone would pay him more money. And sports is the virtually the only place where he is not allowed to to go get it. And this includes plenty of professions that pay
    more than the NFL does.

    The system allows players to hold out if they are willing to pay what for them is a small fine. Why does everyone cry “it’s the system, live with it!” when defending the owners, but not the players? Why are you jealous of players who make millions but not owners who make billions?

  41. I would like to see some stats regarding players who hold out for more money. My guess is that most of them DO NOT end up making more money and just end up hurting their current team. If anybody has an idea, I’d like to know.

  42. At least he was honest and not claiming that it was about “Respect” or “Principle”.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.