On Monday, the Oakland Raiders signed former San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Michael Crabtree to a one year deal. Many are calling the signing a “low-risk, high reward” deal, but we’ll look a little deeper at how Crabtree could hurt or help both the Raiders and himself.
The Crabtree deal is for one year, $3 million, basically fully guaranteed. Crabtree will earn an additional $400,000 for 70 catches or 900 yards and $1.4 million for 100 catches or 1,400 yards. If all incentives are reached, Crabtree will earn $5 million for his one year deal.
Pros and Cons:
Needless to say, the Raiders and Raider Nation will be ecstatic if Crabtree reaches all of his incentives, but that is highly unlikely. No Raider receiver had more than 700 yards last year and James Jones led the team with only 73 catches. There is reason to believe that Crabtree and second year QB Derek Carr can be compatible. One of Carr’s best throws is the back shoulder fade. The throw requires the receiver to be able to make quick adjustments, locate the ball and often make a difficult catch. Crabtree has all of those abilities.
With Bill Musgrave coming over from Philadelphia to become the Raiders offensive coordinator, the Raiders may move to a hurry-up offense featuring more screens and slants. Crabtree has had success running these underneath routes because he is so shifty. He doesn’t have the speed to beat a corner deep, (that sound you hear is Al Davis turning in his grave) but his route running ability in tight windows is superb.
Speed is the main reason the receiver-needy Raiders took Darius Heyward-Bey instead of Crabtree in the 2008 NFL Draft. In case you didn’t know, Davis kind of liked speed. But speed is not the most concerning trait about Crabtree. His most concerning trait is that he is made of glass. Crabtree is injured a lot. He hasn’t missed a game after missing almost the entire 2013 regular season with an achilles injury, but he hasn’t been the same either. If he does not regain some of the explosiveness he showed in 2012, the signing will be seen as a bust.
With all that said, Crabtree’s attitude is what the Raiders should be most worried about. Whether it be his long rookie holdout, or training camp apathy, or complaining about his role in the offense, Crabtree has been a “diva.” This can be a very dangerous personality to have around a young, QB in Carr, who is looking to become the team’s leader. But, while this fire in Crabtree could blow up the team, it could also ignite Crabtree’s play on the field. Crabtree must know this is his last chance at a big contract in the NFL. If Crabtree’s agent is worth anything, he is showing Crabtree footage of great WRs (Terrel Owens, Randy Moss, etc.) that have been blackballed by the NFL because of their attitude problems.
The signing of Crabtree doesn’t change anything about the Raiders draft plans. They will still take a receiver with the No.4 overall pick and may take a slot guy in the third round. Crabtree will hope to be second on the depth chart behind the new rookie. If he doesn’t have any explosiveness left, he could wind up being the fourth option.
Projected Depth Chart: Wide Receiver:
X-Reciever: Rookie Round 1 (Amari Cooper/Kevin White)
Y-Receiver: Crabtree/ James Jones
Slot: Rookie Round 3 (Tyler Lockette?)
Reserve: Holmes, Butler, Thompkins