A hot topic that surrounded the 49ers during their off-season program was the contract extensions of some key players that will become free agents after the 2010 season.
When linebacker Patrick Willis signed a $50 million extension for five years in May, there was a concern as to how the 49ers could secure other key players like tight end Vernon Davis and safety Dashon Goldson. Adding to the current contract dispute between the team and linebacker Manny Lawson, it was going to be a tough situation for the 49ers.
Drafted in 2006, Davis enters his final year of his contract following a superb Pro Bowl season. As one of the team's best blockers and now one of the league's most explosive tight ends, it seems that Davis could be next in line to receive a new contract.
Davis has already expressed that he and the team are already working on a new contract . His appearance at the OTAs was a sign that he wasn't going to worry about it.
"I'm here because this is what I do," Davis said on being at the voluntary OTAs. In some instances, players would sit out all voluntary team activities until their contract situation is resolved. "I like to work and that's what I do here. I don't have to be paid to workout. I'll train here without being paid for the off-season."
It seems that Davis is confident that a new contract will be completed some time in the off-season. Teammate safefty Dashon Goldson is another player that might have to wait until season's end to find out his future with the team
Depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement situation turns out, Goldson could become either a restricted free agent or an unrestricted free agent after the 2010 season.
Goldson's original rookie contract will pay him $550,000 this season—an underpaid amount for a starting player. Goldson finished last season strong and has emerged as the next player the 49ers have to consider signing long term after Davis. Mega sports agent Drew Rosenhaus is Goldson's agent.
Linebacker Manny Lawson is an interesting case. Lawson is scheduled to make $625,000 this upcoming season and it is clear that he is not happy with the contract. Throughout the entire OTAs, Lawson was nowhere near the Bay Area. The former first round pick in 2006 had been working out in Arizona.
Lawson, however, clarified that there was no dissatisfaction with his current contract.
"Not dissatisfied with it, but you know, everybody wants a new contract," Lawson said. "I wanted to be here. I wanted to be a San Francisco 49er. I would like a new contract, yes."
When asked about how he felt about his teammates receiving new deals midway through their initial contract, Lawson had praise for them.
"Kudos to them. Kudos to them. I'm about everybody getting what they deserve," he said. "You know, those guys right now that are two years, getting a new one? They should get it."
And what does Lawson deserve? After suffering injury-plagued seasons in 2007 and 2008, Lawson was able to remain healthy for 2009. In last season, however, teammate Ahmad Brooks took over Lawson's spot in nickel defense and some had wondered if the future for Lawson was bleak. Still, Lawson had his best season as a pro in 2009 with 67 tackles and seven sacks.
It would be safe to say that whatever contract Lawson feels like he deserves, he has to prove it on the field this season.
Here are some other notable players that will become free agents after the 2010 season:
- QB Alex Smith - Essentially, this is his make or break year. If he does well, he will stick with the team. If not, the 49ers will more than likely say farewell to him.
- NT Aubrayo Franklin - Once he signs his $7 million tender, the 49ers either have to find a way to extend the contract or risk losing one the league's best nose tackles to the free agent market at season's end.
- WR Jason Hill - Was an afterthought for most of 2009 after a strong 2008 finish. However, if the mini-camp depth chart is any suggestion, he might have a huge role with the team in 2010 and might be able to salvage his career with the 49ers.
- DE Ray McDonald - Very solid backup and growing pass rusher. Team will have to see how he has recovered from knee surgery.
- LB Takeo Spikes - Spikes will be 34 when he becomes a free agent and there is a strong chance that the 49ers might look to their recent draft picks to be his replacement.
Article originally published at Examiner.com