San Francisco 49ers free safety Dashon Goldson is widely considered one of the best players at his respective position. He has been a hard-hitting, playmaking presence for a top-ranked defense that features a lot of superstars.
Though, after back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons in the Bay Area, Goldson is once again set to be a free agent. Before this season began, the Niners did not pay him the money he sought and instead hit him with the team's franchise tender. San Francisco has been year-to-year with Goldson since his rookie contract expired in 2011.
Since then, the 49ers extended Andy Lee, NaVorro Bowman, Carlos Rogers and Ahmad Brooks to long-term deals. In the big picture, this had made the team appear very hesitant when it comes to paying their All-Pro safety.
The Niners are at a contractual crossroads with Goldson, where most are expecting the team to either finally extend him or at the very least, apply the franchise tag for a second year in a row. Now we're hearing the 49ers might be exploring a third option.
A league source told CSN Bay Area that there was "no certainty" that the 49ers would in fact use the tag on Goldson again. The rate of the tender would cost San Francisco around $7.5 million for 2013, making Goldson the team's third-highest earner for that year.
At this point, it sounds as if the 49ers are prepared to let Goldson walk if they can't come to an agreement.
If this is the year that the transition to Goldson's successor, they've gotten extremely lucky with the 2013 draft class. With the 49ers' safeties being interchangeable, Trent Baalke has a wealthy crop of defensive backs to pick from this year.
Kenny Vaccaro (Texas), Eric Reid (LSU), Phillip Thomas (Fresno State), Bacarri Rambo (Georgia), D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina), Matt Elam (Florida) and Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International) are all considerable prospects. This will give the 49ers serious leverage during discussions with Dashon Goldson.
It seems big changes could be on the horizon.