Contracts can be a complex thing when someone wants long-term security. The San Francisco 49ers have two different cases with G Alex Boone and Vernon Davis with the latter being a veteran while the former is entering his sixth season in the NFL.
Minicamp, which is mandatory for every player begins today but Davis has already said he isn't coming. Davis, 30, has two years remaining on his contract through the 2015 season and will make $7.4 million this year.
Davis is viewed as one of the league's top tight ends with Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Jason Witten. Graham was given the franchise tag by the New Orleans Saints this offseason, but it will be debatable how he could be viewed as a TE or WR given his role on offense.
In 2013, Graham had 1,215 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns, more than any wide receiver on the Saints. Compare that of Vernon Davis, who had 850 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Davis was second on the team in receiving yards behind Anquan Boldin (1,179 yards) and led the team in touchdowns in 2013.
The franchise tag price for a TE is $7.035 million while a WR will be paid $12.312 million. While both sides are trying to figure out Graham's position and how much he will be paid, Davis can make a similar argument on being a top producer in the 49ers passing game. It would be expected that he wants to be paid around those figures if not more when seeking a new deal.
Some can make the argument that a receiving TE is underpaid, but for Davis, it's even larger with the role he has as a blocker. Davis can be plugged in anywhere on the field as an extra WR or used for the running game as a blocking TE. As he is coming off a great season where he tied a career-high in touchdowns, Davis will want a new contract.
Meanwhile, Boone is one of the most underpaid offensive linemen in the game as he is making $2 million in base salary. Initially signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009, he was promoted to the active roster in 2010 where he received limited playing time prior to 2012. After Adam Snyder signed with the Arizona Cardinals via free agency, Boone became the starting RG and has not disappointed as a converted offensive tackle.
Boone, 27, is under a financially friendly contract through the 2015 season. For a starting guard in the last two seasons, Boone is making less money than what all other starting linemen are making in 2014. In 2015, he will be making $1.2 million in base salary.
In the long term, decisions will be made after the 2014 season when Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati are slated to become free agents. One of those two will most likely be gone because the cap space will be limited. Colin Kaepernick's new contract will have a cap hit of at least $15 million after the 2014 ends. Aldon Smith is also slated to have a $9.75 cap hit in 2015 as the 49ers picked up his fifth-year option prior to the draft.
With several players like Kaepernick, Smith and NaVorro Bowman being paid after 2015, General Manager Trent Baalke will have to decide who can stay and who will go. There could be a cap casualty in the future and it wouldn't be surprising if Davis doesn't receive a new 49ers contract.