Offer to LB includes $15.5 signing bonus
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers offered Julian Peterson the largest contract in franchise history, but general manager Terry Donahue doesn't expect it will be enough to sign the All-Pro linebacker to a long-term deal.
Donahue did not reveal details of the offer, but he said it would include a team-record $15.5 million signing bonus.
Peterson has been a no-show at each of San Francisco's three spring minicamps. Negotiations with Peterson's agents, Kevin and Carl Poston, have been at a standstill since the Niners placed the franchise tag on Peterson in February.
The Niners made that move after Peterson declined a package that Donahue said would make the four-year veteran the second-highest paid linebacker in the NFL. The contract would trail only the seven-year, $50 million deal signed by Baltimore's Ray Lewis in 2002. That deal included a $19 million signing bonus.
"I think we've made our intentions really clear," Donahue said. "Julian Peterson is an important part of the organization, and he is a player we would like to have here for the long term or we would have never made that kind of offer to him."
Last season, Peterson led the Niners with seven sacks and three forced fumbles and was second on the team with 144 tackles. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year.
The franchise tag prohibits Peterson from negotiating with any team except the 49ers.
He has yet to sign the team's one-year tender offer of just over $6 million, which is the average salary of the five highest-paid players at Peterson's position.
Negotiations between Peterson and the 49ers cannot begin again until July 15.
Donahue anticipates Peterson will hold out when training camp begins July 30.
"Getting Julian Peterson into camp is important to us," Donahue said. "But at the same time, it is what it is. There really isn't a whole lot to discuss. I do not expect us to be in heavy negotiations [after July 15] or anything like that. We've gone where we can go. We've made a very, very competitive offer."
Peterson's agents reportedly were asking for a deal that included $30 million in guaranteed money before talks broke off in February.
When asked Wednesday whether that figure was accurate, Donahue replied, "I don't know. I lost track."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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