Crabtree parameters set?
It’s a reasonable question that has been posed in the past day: Now that the Nos. 9 and 11 draft picks have signed, will that help the 49ers reach contract terms with Michael Crabtree, the No. 10 selection?
That sounds like a reasonable starting and finishing point, doesn’t it?
At least we now know what the 49ers are (have been) offering. According to league sources, the 49ers’ contract proposal fits snuggly in the middle – as it should. Here are those contract details, as supplied by an NFL source with knowledge of the deals:
No. 9: Packers, DT B.J. Raji – 5 yrs, $22.5 million base, $28.5 M maximum, $17.7 M guaranteed
No. 11: Bills, LB Aaron Maybin – 5 yrs, $17.5 M base, $24.5 M maximum, $14.25 M guaranteed
The 49ers’ contract offer to Crabtree and his agent, Eugene Parker, is believed to be in the neighborhood of 5 yrs, $20 M base, $26.5 M max, $16 M guaranteed.
The 49ers first made what coach Mike Singletary has described as a “fair proposal” to Crabtree in late June, in hopes of getting him to report to training camp on time. And that contract will probably end up being very close to what he ends up signing – if he ends up signing – with the possibility the numbers could escalate accordingly if the sides agree to a six-year deal. (The 49ers might also fluff those numbers on the back end to make the contract look more lucrative.)
It was big news a couple weeks ago when Crabtree’s advisor, David Wells, told ESPN that Crabtree was prepared to sit out the entire season if his demands were not met. The Crabtree camp seems to be obsessing on the hefty contract the Raiders gave the seventh pick, Darrius Heyward-Bay, the top receiver in the draft. Heyward-Bey signed a deal that includes $23.5 million guaranteed with a base amount of $38.25 million that can max out at $54 million.
So, basically, the 49ers and Crabtree are roughly $7.5 million apart in guaranteed money and there’s a whopping $18 million disagreement on the total package.
Because the 49ers have the bags of money, they hold all the leverage in this deal. After all, just think of all the money Crabtree would lose if he does not sign this season. Sources have told me the 49ers are determined to honor the slotting system, meaning they have no plan to extend Crabtree a deal that exceeds what Raji received. If the 49ers caved in now, they would set a precedent of getting bullied. With two first-round picks in 2010, that could be disastrous.
The impasse is on Day 26. Crabtree has been absent for 32 practices, and tonight he’ll miss his second exhibition game. He’s missing an opportunity tonight to play against the Raiders, the club that decided Heyward-Bey was a better prospect. Next week, he won’t be on the field when the 49ers play an exhibition game at the new Cowboys stadium, about 15 minutes from where Crabtree grew up.
This is what Crabtree said on April 30 about playing an exhibition game near his hometown: “I was getting off of a plane. It was my dad, me and my best friend. My dad said, ‘Yeah, we got Dallas. We’ve got Dallas in the new stadium,’ and it kind of hit me and I said, ‘Man, I get to play at home.’ “
At this point, it is unrealistic to think Crabtree can make much of an impact as a rookie – assuming he even signs in the near future. Maybe he can get to a point in the first half of the season where he gets up to a dozen snaps a game behind starters Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan. Depending on how well he adjusts, perhaps he can earn more playing time.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How long will this impasse last? I’d never offer a guess because logic says it should have been settled long ago. But Crabtree has not lost any significant money, yet. He has not been collecting his per diem during training camp. Once the regular season begins, he’ll theoretically be losing $18,235 a week in game checks (1/17 of the rookie minimum salary of $310,000).
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