Thread: Julian Peterson
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Old 07-28-2004   #15
texan279
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from www.sfgate.com

General manager Terry Donahue and Julian Peterson's agent, Kevin Poston, talked extensively Monday about the linebacker's contract -- they just didn't do it with each other.

Peterson, the 49ers' best defensive player and first-team All-Pro, is likely to conduct a holdout that could linger into the regular season.

Donahue and Poston haven't spoken since March. "Really, there isn't much to say," Donahue said.

He's right. Both sides appear entrenched.

The 49ers have offered a six-year, $37.8 million package with guaranteed money in a signing bonus of $15.5 million, bringing the contract average to $6. 3 million a year.

Donahue maintains that offer is the highest in team history and would make Peterson the second-highest paid linebacker behind only the Ravens' Ray Lewis.

Poston said that Washington's LaVar Arrington averages $8.1 million a year in a deal signed in December.

"I should know, I did the contract," Poston said.

NFL documents show that Arrington averages that amount through the first two years of his deal. Spread over three years, the average drops to $5.7 million a year.

The contract is also in dispute, with Poston maintaining that $6.45 million in guaranteed money is missing.

But the main issue between Poston and the 49ers is how to characterize Peterson. The 49ers believe he's a linebacker.

Poston believes that Peterson makes such an impact, he transcends his position. Donahue said that a letter sent by Poston stated that Peterson should be compared with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

While that may be overstating the case, Peterson is just as valuable to the 49ers' defense as a top-flight cornerback, Poston maintains, and he wants the contract average at $9 million a year, which is what shut-down cornerback Champ Bailey received from Denver.

Poston cites Peterson's ability to play cornerback and safety at times.

"He covers like a cornerback and hits like a linebacker," Poston said from his Farmington, Mich., office on Monday.

The 49ers think Peterson is the best outside linebacker in the league, and the team is willing to pay him as such.

Peterson did play safety and cornerback in spots last season, but the 49ers maintain he couldn't survive at those positions long-term.

Peterson can rush the passer, as his seven sacks last year would indicate, and does an excellent job covering tight ends. Those duties are considered the domain of the elite outside linebacker, according to the 49ers.

"Positions, to an extent, determine what players get paid," Donahue said. "If you want to get paid like a cornerback, go play cornerback."

The average pay for the top five cornerbacks this year is $8.781 million. For the top five linebackers it's $6.074 million, which is also what Peterson will earn if he plays under the exclusive franchise tag.

The 49ers tagged him as their franchise player in February, which means that Peterson can only negotiate with the 49ers for the next year.

Peterson's leverage is to stay out of minicamps and training camp. Poston suggested that Peterson may even hold out during the regular season. "If the 49ers think he's going to come in and play because he loves football, wow," Poston said. When asked if Peterson would stay out when the season begins, Poston said, "That's up to Julian."

Donahue, meanwhile, said players who hold out get injured more easily and that late-arriving players often don't play as expected.

When asked about the possibility Peterson will hold out during the season, Donahue said, "I can't imagine that anyone would think that's in his best interest. But who knows? People do funny things."

Briefly: The team has agreed on a four-year contract with fourth-round pick Isaac Sopoaga, a defensive tackle from Hawaii.
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