As we've all come to realize, the NFL is a business.Players are out to suck as much money as they possibly can from their respective organizations, and they won't rest until they do. They understand that success in the NFL is never guaranteed, and a potential injury could lose you millions.
Therefore, after Pro Bowl players such as New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis and Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson had breakout seasons, it's time for them to get paid—or at least try to.
Meanwhile, other teams around the league can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing they have avoided these distractions and can devote their full attention to more important issues such as training camp and preparing their players for the upcoming season.
Unfortunately for the San Francisco 49ers, they are no longer amongst those teams. Earlier in the off-season, the team decided to place a $7.003 million franchise tag on starting nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. However, to-date, he is still yet to sign the tender.
Thursday, at midnight, the deadline for NFL teams to sign franchise players to a long-term extension came and went. The day before, a team official had reported that despite prior discussion, there was "no chance" a deal would be finalized between the two parties.
Therefore, as expected, Franklin now has two options. He can either decide to ink his name on the dotted line and be a wealthy man, or act immaturely and hold out.
Of course, the 49ers are dreading the possibility of it being the latter. In the 3-4 defensive scheme that they employ, a dominant nose tackle is integral to success. While he won't post gaudy numbers, he will be responsible for occupying multiple blockers in order to allow the defensive ends to make plays off the edge as well as the linebackers to pursuit at the point of attack.
Franklin emerged as one of the top at his position with his stellar play last year. He was an important reason why the defense ranked fourth in points allowed (17.6 PPG) and sixth in stuffing the run (97 YPG).
Losing him would be severely detrimental to that unit and would hinder their chances of making the playoffs.
Meanwhile, signing the one-year deal would be extremely beneficial for Franklin as well. He must understand that holding out is a lose-lose scenario.
Since, this appears to primarily concern money, he should realize that $7 million is a lot to leave on the table. In fact, that is nearly as much money as he has made total over his seven years in the league. Moreover, failing to sign would most likely equate in less money down the road. Despite his talent, few teams will want to make a major financial commitment with a player who prioritizes money over football.
Franklin is much better off signing that tender, attending off-season workouts, and continuing his effective play on game day. Doing so will help display his maturity and worthiness of an eventual big-time payday at the end of the 2010-2011 season.
Until then, I have complete faith that both sides can make the best of the situation and I wish Aubrayo Franklin and the entire 49er team the best of luck moving forward.