Last week Donte Whitner said to a group of reporters he expected fellow 49ers safety Dashon Goldson to show up for offseason workouts in Santa Clara, however, he did not know if Goldson would sign his franchise tender. Whitner’s assessment seems to be premature as there are now reports Goldson will not be joining fellow teammates in the Bay Area for workouts anytime soon. The 49ers placed the franchise tag on Goldson early in the offseason.
The franchise tag is non-exclusive meaning Goldson can negotiate with any team, with the 49ers having the right to match any contract offer. If the 49ers don’t match a contract offer they will be awarded two first-round draft picks as compensation.
Last offseason the 49ers presented Goldson with a five-year, $25 million deal but the safety turned it down expecting to receive a better offer from another team. No team offered Goldson the right long-term deal he was looking for, so he ended up signing a one-year contract with the 49ers for the 2011 season.
In a way it makes sense #38 has not signed the franchise tender because it would weaken his bargaining power with the 49ers. If he signs the franchise tender the 49ers would have the upper hand in negotiating a long-term deal because Goldson would not be able to talk with other teams, which is his only current advantage. But that only becomes a real advantage if other teams are seeking to sign him.
There are no reports of other teams courting Goldson and this is because they know the 49ers covet the safety. Even if another team would offer a contract, they would be giving up a lot for Goldson. In addition to signing him to a possible four or five-year deal, the team would also give up two first-round draft picks, which is a steep price to pay even for someone who played as well as Goldson did last season (83 tackles, 7 interceptions). One reason for the lack of contract offers from other teams is because no one has a dire need for a starting safety. Not yet at least.
Should Goldson sign his franchise tender with the 49ers, he will probably earn around $6 million for the upcoming season as the franchise player. With a lack of depth at safety, the 49ers don’t necessarily have the upper hand if Goldson continues to hold out. The last two times the 49ers had a franchise tagged player holdout for a longer contract ended badly.
In 2004 Julian Peterson held out all the way until August 26 with the season starting two weeks later. Peterson started the first five games until he suffered a season-ending injury. Most recently, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin held out through most of the teams 2010 training camp and did not sign his franchise tender until August 28. Franklin had a dismal season with only 39 tackles and zero sacks. The 49ers did not re-sign Peterson or Franklin.
Unless Goldson plans to sit out the season, the way this will end is with him signing his franchise tender late in August, like Peterson and Franklin. If he signs that late into training camp, the 49ers risk losing the hard hitting safety to injury and/or him not playing well because he was not there for a majority of the teams off-season conditioning and workouts. You can file this under stalemate.