49ers place tag on Dashon Goldson

The San Francisco 49ers used the franchise tag for safety Dashon Goldson on Friday, giving them the right to match any offer Goldson receives from elsewhere.

The move by the NFC West champions makes sure the team is compensated if Goldson -- who had been set to become an unrestricted free agent March 13 -- signs with another franchise.

"There are no immediate plans to sign the franchise tag," Goldson's representative, Ben Dogra of CAA Sports, said in a text message. "We will continue to speak with the 49ers."

General manager Trent Baalke said the team can still attempt to sign Goldson to a long-term deal but at least knows he is expected to be with the Niners again in 2012.

"Dashon has been a 49er since we selected him in the fourth round of the 2007 draft," Baalke said. "By using the franchise tag on Dashon, it affords us the opportunity to continue to work on a long-term contract with him, while also ensuring he will be a 49er for a sixth season, in 2012."

Baalke also is busy working to re-sign quarterback Alex Smith, who helped San Francisco snap an eight-year playoff drought and advance to the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers lost in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Negotiations with Smith are underway, with both sides making it clear they want to get something done. Dogra's group, with Tom Condon, also represents Smith.

A first-time Pro Bowler last season, Goldson was a key member of one of the NFL's top defenses.

He and cornerback Carlos Rogers shared the team lead with six interceptions -- a career-best for Goldson, who was drafted out of Washington.

The franchise tag number for safeties is expected to be about $6.2 million next season.

If Goldson receives an offer from another team, the 49ers would have the right to match the offer. If they choose not to match the offer, San Francisco would receive two first-round draft choices as compensation. The franchise tender will provide Goldson with a one-year guaranteed contract equivalent to the average of the top five highest paid players at his position each year, over the last five seasons.

In other tag-related NFL news Friday:

Falcons place franchise tag on Grimes

The Atlanta Falcons on Friday placed the franchise tag on cornerback Brent Grimes, assuring he will receive more than $10 million if he signs the tender.

Grimes, who led the team with 17 passes defensed in 2011, is one of the most important names in an unusually large class of 17 unrestricted free agents. He had a combined 11 interceptions in 2009 and 2010 and was an alternate Pro Bowl pick in 2010.

Grimes' agent, Ben Dogra, said the decision by Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was expected.

"We anticipated receiving the franchise tag," Dogra told The Associated Press. "Brent Grimes is certainly viewed as one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL, and getting franchised is not a surprise to any of us. We look forward to continuing to speak with Thomas Dimitroff over the next few days."

Dimitroff announced the move on the team's radio partner, Atlanta's WQXI AM-790. He said he plans to continue talks on a long-term deal with Grimes.

"Our feeling is, Brent Grimes is an excellent athlete with the ability to move, cover, break on the ball with some of the top corners in this league," Dimitroff said. "We feel comfortable with his abilities, the way that he's picked up our system and settled in nicely in the few years since we have been here.

"We feel like, as we all know, you're always looking for corners that can settle into your system and cover and stay in phase, as what we call it often, and make big plays on the ball. I think Brent Grimes does that, obviously, against big, small, fast or slow receivers in this league. We're encouraged about having him back."

Dogra said Grimes hopes "to explore all options with the Falcons, including signing a long-term deal."

Cardinals place tag on defensive end Campbell

The Arizona Cardinals have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive end Calais Campbell.

The Cardinals can continue to negotiate a long-term deal with the 6-foot-8, 300-pound player through July 16. If another team signs him to an offer sheet, Arizona has the right to match it or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

If the franchise tag remains in effect, Campbell receives a one-year tender at a salary that is the average of the five highest-paid players at his position.

The deadline for using a franchise tag is Monday, and Cardinals general manager Rod Graves said Friday's move gives the team the chance to continue to work toward a deal that would keep Campbell with the Cardinals "for years to come."

Graves had said the Cardinals had no intention of letting Campbell go anywhere, intending on keeping him alongside tackle Darnell Dockett on the front line of the team's 3-4 defense.

Campbell, a second-round pick out of Miami in 2008, set career bests with 72 tackles, 53 solos, and a team-leading eight sacks last season. He had an interception and forced two fumbles, recovering one.

Source: Titans will let Finnegan seek free agency

The Tennessee Titans will not place their franchise tag on cornerback Cortland Finnegan, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Finnegan, 28, has 14 career interceptions, with one coming last season.

The cornerback was a seventh-round pick out of Samford in 2006 who became a starter in 2007. The Titans extended his contract in August 2008, and he made more than $3.7 million last season.

Finnegan was fined by the NFL a few times in 2010, the highlight coming Nov. 28 in a fight with Houston receiver Andre Johnson, when the cornerback took most of the punches. Both players were fined $25,000.

Browns to franchise kicker Dawson

Phil Dawson's career is still kickin' with the Browns.

The dependable Dawson, who has been with Cleveland since its 1999 expansion season, will spend another year with the club after the Browns decided to use their franchise tag on the 37-year-old.

A team spokesman confirmed the plans to use the tag on Friday.

It's the second straight year the Browns have franchised Dawson, who made $3.25 million last season and will make 20 percent more -- roughly $3.8 million -- next season, his 14th in a logo-less orange helmet. If they hadn't used the tag on Dawson he would have become an unrestricted free agent later this month.

The Browns may still try to sign the steady Dawson to a long-term contract. He's coming off one of his best seasons, making 24 of 29 field-goal attempts and seven from beyond 50 yards, one shy of the NFL record.

Dawson has said he's open to finishing his career with the Browns. Through their few highs and many lows over more than a decade, Dawson has been the one thing Cleveland can count on. He's the Browns' career leader in field goals and second to Hall of Famer Lou Groza in scoring.

Dawson called the 2011 season his best and when it ended, he knew there was a strong chance the Browns would franchise him again.

"It would be the second time around, so I'd probably feel a little different than last time," he said on Jan. 2. "Last year was so weird with the lockout, no one knew the timetable of anything. This will be a little bit more of a normal-type calendar, normal communications. You couldn't even talk to people last year. I'll probably feel different, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I can't necessarily predict."

Believing he had played his final game with the Browns in 2010, Dawson said his goodbyes and sold his home in the Cleveland area before the team surprised him by using its franchise tag on him for the first time. Last year was tough on him personally because his wife and sons stayed in Texas while he played for the Browns. It didn't affect his performance, though, as Dawson had another solid season.

Bengals tag kicker Mike Nugent

Kicker Mike Nugent has been designated the Cincinnati Bengals' franchise player.

Nugent can negotiate with another team, but if Nugent agrees to terms with someone else, the Bengals could retain him by matching the offer. If the Bengals decline to match the offer, the team signing Nugent would have to give the Bengals two first-round draft choices.

Nugent has played two seasons for the Bengals after signing as a free agent in 2010. He helped the Bengals earn a wild-card playoff berth this past season and set franchise records for points (132) and field goals (33).

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was used in this report.