Oakland Raiders: Possible 2015 Free Agency Scenarios

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Nov 23, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) catches the ball against Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) during the second quarter at Levi

Michael Crabtree

While the Raiders currently have a promising crop of young wideouts in Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Vincent Brown and Kenbrell Tompkins to go along with the solid and capable veteran James Jones, you really can never have too many pass-catchers on your roster when you’re trying to develop a young quarterback into a franchise player. While there’s a very real possibility of the Raiders targeting a wide receiver in the 2015 draft, there’s also the possibility of going out into the free agent market and bringing in a player from across the Bay: Michael Crabtree.

Crabtree, a 2009 1st-round draft pick, has had an up and down career with the run-first 49ers since he entered the league. He played his first two seasons on a couple of very mediocre 49ers teams with Alex Smith throwing to him before Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2011. Crabtree led the 49ers in receptions in both 2011 and 2012, but missed most of last season with injury, returning just in time for the playoffs. He was of course victimized by Richard Sherman at the end of the NFC Championship Game, both on the field and in Sherman’s memorable post-game rant.

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Michael Crabtree evokes painful 49ers memory after Eagles Super Bowl loss
Michael Crabtree evokes painful 49ers memory after Eagles Super Bowl loss /

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  • But Crabtree is not a “sorry receiver,” contrary to Sherman’s stated opinion. The 6’2″, 215 pound Crabtree is an exceptional physical talent who plays with the range of a taller player with great leaping ability, and also has very good speed. Between 2011 and 2012, in a run-first offense, he caught 157 passes for 1,979 yards and 13 TD’s. Crabtree was responsible for over 1/3 of the 2012 49ers’ passing offense, the year they appeared in a Super Bowl. He also has eight games of post-season experience (40 rec, 516 yards, 4 TD’s in playoff games). This year, his production has slipped, and he is second on the team now with 48 receptions through eleven games as the 49ers have struggled to remain consistent.

    The 49ers and he both have stated publicly that they want to get a deal done, but as contract talks drag on toward the end of the season, the probability that the deal will actually happen diminishes. Crabtree is earning slightly less than $5M against the 49ers’ cap this year, and it’s likely that he’ll want to test the market rather than take a pay cut. If he does indeed enter free agency, however, there is a strong chance that Crabtree could be a bargain: there are a number of solid to excellent wide receivers who could potentially be free agents in 2015, including Jeremy Maclin.

    McKenzie will likely move first to retain his young wide receivers in Andre Holmes and Rod Streater, both of whom are on expiring contracts this year as well, and he could of course look to bolster the position in the draft. But Crabtree, especially if the market is saturated this offseason, could be a great deal for the Raiders, as a veteran who is still relatively young (he will turn 28 in September of next year) and has been productive but has had a couple off years in a row. It’s the type of move McKenzie likes to make, and a realistic possibility depending on how the free agent marketplace shapes up.