Friday, March 2, 2012
Warning: Franchise tags can disappear
By Mike Sando
A reminder as NFL teams name franchise players: Teams can withdraw the designations if players decide against signing the corresponding one-year offers.
That came to mind Friday upon reading Matt Maiocco's report suggesting Dashon Goldson had no immediate plans to sign the San Francisco 49ers' one-year franchise offer worth an estimated $6.2 million.
Teams rarely withdraw franchise designations, but plans can change. Leroy Hill found out the hard way back in 2009, when the Seattle Seahawks used a first-round choice for Aaron Curry, then withdrew an $8.3 million franchise offer from Hill, who was suddenly scrambling as a free agent after the draft.
We all saw what happened to Goldson last offseason. He found nothing palatable in free agency, then re-signed with the 49ers for one year and $2 million. The lockout made for unusual circumstances. Goldson might find the market more favorable this year.
But I see no advantage for Goldson in withholding his signature. Any team signing him to an offer would face losing two first-round draft choices if the 49ers declined to match. Teams simply do not trade two first-round choices for the right to pay good safeties.
Signing the franchise offer makes the money guaranteed. Not signing the offer means it could disappear if circumstances changed.
Goldson has a Pro Bowl on his resume, so he is more accomplished than Seattle's Hill was back in 2009. But neither was a player the team absolutely had to keep. The Seahawks, like the 49ers now, had more options than the player.
The 49ers appear unlikely to withdraw the tag, but they will get by just fine this offseason with or without Goldson under contract. Goldson has more at stake.
I see less reason for Arizona's Calais Campbell to sign the Cardinals' franchise offer, which has been projected to be around $10.6 million. There is virtually no chance the Cardinals would withdraw the tag, and if they did, Campbell would command big money from teams hungry for young defensive linemen of his caliber.
In Seattle, meanwhile, the Seahawks are expected to use the franchise designation on Marshawn Lynch if a long-term deal remains elusive. The deadline for naming franchise players is Monday.