Contract clock ticks for Pro Bowlers

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
5:17
PM ET
Patrick Willis' contract extension with the 49ers leaves the NFC West with four 2010 Pro Bowl players headed toward potential free agency after the 2010 or 2011 seasons.

A quick look at their situations:

  • Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals. Deal expires after the 2011 season. Fitzgerald is already earning $10 million per year as part of the deal he signed before the 2008 season. It's easy to forget Fitzgerald's contract situation because the final year of his deal, 2012, is a voidable year. The deal also contains a no-trade clause while preventing the Cardinals from naming Fitzgerald their franchise or transition player. Arizona might be wise to get something done with Fitzgerald before the 2011 season.
  • Darnell Dockett, DE, Cardinals. Deal expires after the 2011 season. Dockett's contract pays him $7.75 million over the next two seasons. While Dockett plays end in the Cardinals' 3-4 scheme, the NFL considers him a defensive tackle, as reflected in Pro Bowl balloting. The distinction could come into play if the Cardinals decide to name Dockett their franchise player. The sense I get dovetails with the one Darren Urban of azcardinals.com described. Dockett should get a long-term deal as long as he keeps playing at a high level.
  • Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers. Deal expires after the 2010 season. Davis became a first-team Pro Bowl choice last season when the 49ers made him a bigger part of the passing game. Davis has always been a hard worker. He has shown greater self-control on the field. The franchise-player value for tight ends would secure Davis at a relative bargain price if the 49ers cannot work out a long-term deal. The team has been proactive in extending contracts for its best young players, however.
  • Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Deal expires after the 2011 season. Gore will be 29 years old heading into the 2012 season. Running backs tend to wind down around age 30. A long-term extension for Gore well past age 30 wouldn't make much sense.

The 49ers' Dashon Goldson is among a group of less-accomplished rising starters approaching contract years. More on that group at another time.

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