Franchise deadline looming for Goldson

Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson has until Monday to work out a long-term deal with the 49ers or be forced to sign a one-year tender offer to play for the team this season. The latter appears most likely to happen in a year when individuals designated as franchise players by their teams don't seem to be making much progress in getting the security of those long-term deals.

In a league essentially governed by deadlines, the current pre-training camp down time doesn't include many key dates before clubs report for real football at the end of this month, but there is one day circled on the calendars of several teams.

And it will be here on Monday.

With the deadline to sign franchise players to long-term deals, many of the 21 veterans designated as franchise free agents in the spring still don't have multi-year contracts. That list includes Dashon Goldson, who had a career season in 2011.

In fact, six of the players haven't even signed their one-year tenders for 2012. And while the situations could change with one phone call – witness the four-year, $13 million contract to which Denver kicker Matt Prater agreed on last week after a lull in negotiations – the pace of some of the discussions has been relatively glacial.

That list also includes Goldson, who has yet to sign his one-year tender with the 49ers of $6.212 million – the NFL's franchise figure this year for safeties. If he and the team fail to reach a long-term deal, Goldson can only sign the one-year deal with the 49ers. At that point, he would be unable to negotiate a contract extension until after the final game of the 2012 season.

Goldson has not participated in any of San Francisco's offseason workout program while his representatives tried to negotiate a long-term deal with the team. Goldson recently said on a segment of SiriusXM NFL radio that he has stayed away from the team this year because of the "business side of things" but that he's "in a position where I want to accomplish a lot," and has been working out regularly on his own way from the 49ers.

"Any guy would love a long-term, six years," Goldson said. "I played on a one-year (contract) last year after a four-year deal. One year is not what any football player wants because we all know what we put our bodies through and what we do for our football teams and stuff like that. But it's all good. … I just hope something will get done. And if not, I'll still be a 49er."

Granted, even a week is an eternity in the NFL, where little work is accomplished until a shotgun is pointed at everyone's temporal lobe, it seems. And cell phones mean that general managers and cap specialists can conduct negotiations from the ninth fairway or the beach, if they are so motivated.

But there seems to be some intransigency from both sides of the bargaining table in talks regarding the unsigned players, and even toward the guys who have already signed for just one year.

"Oh, there have been talks, but no real progress," Brian Mackler, the agent for unsigned Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril, told The Sports Xchange.

Mackler and Lions team president Tom Lewand have spent weeks now suggesting that "the ball" is in the other side's court. It seems time for someone to put away a winning volley, but, around the league, it appears that everyone involved in the 14 franchise situations that don't include long-tem deals is into long rallies instead – Goldson's situation being one example.

"We kind of keep going around and around," acknowledged the general manager from a team with an unsigned franchise player. "All that does is make you dizzy."

Indeed, the league's dog days have been transformed into fog and daze for some of the participants in the franchise discussions. Everyone seems to be aware that the clock is ticking, but widespread anxiety has yet to develop.

It remains to be seen if an arbitrator's ruling last week which clarified the status of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees – agreeing that he has now been "franchised" two times in his career, albeit by two separate clubs – spurs any action on the quarterback's contract. But the Saints have for weeks been declaring that a resolution is close on a long-term contract and nothing has been consummated.

The late general manager George Young famously noted that very little in the way of contract negotiation was accomplished in the NFL before Bastille Day, the French equivalent of Independence Day, celebrated on July 14. Young was mostly speaking of draft choice contracts – and Bastille Day has essentially been rendered irrelevant by a rookie wage scale that has already prompted agreements with more than 85 percent of the rookies – but it might have some remnant significance in terms of the franchise negotiations.

Early last week, prognosticated about the potential for long-term deals for the remaining franchise players without multi-year contracts. The crystal ball at The Sports Xchange is a bit cloudier, so we'll defer on the predictions. Except to note, rather obviously, that considerable work is still required, and that history on the franchise player front offers a mixed bag.

Of the 14 franchise players from 2011, all but three ended up with long-term deals, but last year was somewhat an aberration because of the lockout and an extended deadline for long-term contracts. Notably, more of the franchise players who signed long-term contracts in 2011 are with new teams than the one who got only a one-year tender contract (2-1).

In 2010, only half of the six players designated as franchisee free agents received long-term contracts, and two of the guys who got one-year deals are out of the league right now. Nine of the 14 franchise free agents from 2009 signed tenders instead of long-term contracts. All nine are either with new teams or out of the league entirely. But only two of the long-term signees are still with their original clubs, and an equal number are currently unemployed.

"So it's kind of been a crapshoot lately," said one team executive from a club that doesn't have a franchise player this year, but had one a few seasons ago and ultimately released him before the long-term contract played out. "It's sort of a 'caveat emptor' deal for both sides."

True enough, the "buyer beware" admonition is one of which both sides must be wary. In terms of awareness, though, the Monday's deadline is a date that needs to be heeded, but hasn't seemed to engender much urgency this year.

Niners Digest Top Stories