A sure sign that the restricted free-agent market is pretty much dead came when Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace could have been had for a first-round pick (plus a very large contract) and no team so much as brought him in for a visit. In fact, none of the 42 restricted free agents received an offer sheet from another club; one restricted free agent (Ryan McBean) had his tender rescinded and just two (Dan Skuta, Jonathan Casillas) visited another teams.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Larry Grant was one player who, in a previous era, might have garnered interest on the restricted free-agent market. Grant started three of 16 games for the 49ers last season, and in a four-game stretch while subbing for an injured Patrick Willis posted 34 tackles and two sacks. Grant, 27, would have cost a team a seventh-round draft choice had had they signed him to an offer sheet that the 49ers declined to match. But none did, so he returned to the 49ers on April 17.
Grant had braced for a slow market and is glad to be back with the 49ers, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"It wasn't frustrating," Grant said. "I had a real in-depth conversation with my agent (Andy Simms) and he told me how the restricted free agent market was - there was nothing that was going to be happening. So when I saw high-profile guys like Mike Wallace not get many looks, I really wasn't worried. I knew either way, if I was somewhere else or here, I was going to embrace the opportunity and make the best out of whatever position I'm in."
Compared to other restricted free agents, Grant is in a pretty good situation, contract-wise. Restricted free-agent tenders are non-guaranteed, but according to a source with knowledge of the contract, Grant's $1.26 million base salary for the 2012 season is partially guaranteed (skill and injury) and 25 percent of that amount ($315,000) has been advanced, which should assure him a spot on the 53-man roster.