Crabtree Finally Makes His Debut

Well, well, well, San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree is finally signed!  This signing hit the news cycle with about as much flair and force as a feather hitting the windshield of a dump truck. I think the disbelief in the situation combined with the fact that it took so long, caused many to shrug their shoulders, make a comment or two and move on the rest of the regular season and fantasy football teams.

In the end, the biggest loser in the process has been Crabtree. His agent still got the same contract he was basically going to get three months ago.  The agent gets the same percentage in fee for his services. The 49ers got the player they drafted, but Crabtree lost valuable practice repetitions and time helping him ease into the NFL.  I almost got caught up in my own hype of not remembering how contracts can be structured. I have heard many say that Crabtree needs to get into sign his deal as soon as possible, because he is losing weekly game checks and that is money he will never see again. Not so fast my friends. There is still the possibility, and more than likely, that Crabtree made up for the lost weeks of Paragraph 5 (Salary) by some crafty negotiating amongst his agent Eugene Parker and team negotiator Paraag Marathe.  Although the contract has not yet been officially approved by the NFL, it is being reviewed and will be available most likely by Thursday morning.

Crabtree probably got a market deal not too different than what he would have gotten if he had signed in July or August when the 49ers had an offer on the table. Crabtree recently celebrated his 22nd birthday on September 14. Signing a six-year contract at this stage of negotiations as opposed to a five-year contract that was being offered previously, Crabtree has potentially lost a year that would have him closer to free agency, which he could have been able to achieve with an early acceptance.  Now he is 22 years old, and will not reach free agency (under the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement) until he is 27-years old, but would be 28-years old shortly after the season begins.  Not to mention when (not if) there is a work stoppage, i.e., lockout, by the owners in 2011, then Crabtree’s contract will be tolled like everyone else and he may lose another year making him 28-years old going on 29-years old, if a work stoppage lasts for an entire season.

Crabtree will more than likely receive a two-week roster exemption and be fully activated by Week 7 or the 2009 regular season.  This is usually given to allow the team to slowly groom the player into shape before having to fully activate him to the roster.  His time away from the game, missing Organized Team Activity (OTA) workouts due to a foot injury, all of training camp, missing four regular season games will have him behind. Not to mention, Crabtree is being coached by one of the best technical coaches in the NFL, wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. Sullivan is the type of coach every young wide receiver should learn from. It will take some time for Crabtree to adjust to this style of coaching now that the “bullets are flying” (to use a figure of speech) in the regular season.

I know Crabtree is a talented player, and should be a great player to watch for many years to come, but I am reminded of another former wide receiver drafted just five years ago in 2005 at the #10 spot by the name of Mike Williams (University of Southern California -USC). I am not saying that these guys are the same in terms of work ethic, but for as college players and NFL prospects, they are two peas in a pod. It is just four years later and Williams is no where to be seen or heard of when it comes to the NFL. Let’s all hope that Crabtree does not fall into the abyss with Williams.

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