Swans CEO Andrew Ireland made the startling admission on television on Monday night.
Ireland told AFL 360 that Franklin's manager Liam Pickering had approached his club shortly after the Swans had beaten Franklin and Hawthorn in the 2012 decider, saying that the game's biggest star wanted to join the Bloods.
"Buddy was keen to come to us and I guess that is the part that we really need to stress," Ireland said.
"He and his management indicated to us about a year ago that he would like to come to the Sydney Swans.
"To be frank, we thought that would be difficult to achieve.
"We re-addressed it during the year and as we got a better feel for what our list would look like a deal was able to be put together."
Ireland described reports of a nine-year, $10 million mega-deal for Franklin as close to the mark, adding he felt the brilliant forward was made aware of the offer sometime in the past two to four weeks.
Ireland also revealed the nine-year term was guaranteed and if Franklin broke down he would be paid out regardless.
"[Buddy] was very keen to play through and thinks he can play until he's 35. He's not looking to come and change clubs for a couple of years. He was very keen to see it as an extended part of his career.
"And we think given the sort of place he plays that is absolutely possible. It certainly was for Alastair Lynch who played 11 years [at the Lions] after being recruited at 26."
Ireland said the club's cost-of-living allowance was misunderstood by other clubs and it was shared between every player on the club's list. But he said the Swans' had room in their cap for a big signing because players were retiring.
"The reality is even in the $10 million [for Franklin] there is a substantial amount of it which is in marketing contracts which we're allowed to do which falls under a different part of the cap which no C.O.L.A (cost-of-living allowance) applies to.
"For 10 years we've recruited mainly players who weren't getting a game at other clubs and certainly the last two years we've been a bit more aggressive but that's because where our list has gone and we're going to have a number of players leave us this year which allows us to do it."
The revelations come days after an emotional Franklin spoke of his love for Hawthorn following the club's premiership win over Fremantle, and after a season in which he insisted he wanted to wait until the end of the year before speaking to the Hawks about a new contract.
Ireland said Swans' coach John Longmire spoke to the leadership group "In depth" about Franklin on Monday and the leadership group "was fully supportive".