Opinion: Michael Crabtree Worth $4.5M or More to Raiders
Jan 19, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) tips the ball against San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) for an interception by Seahawks outside linebacker Malcolm Smith (not pictured) during the fourth quarter of the 2013 NFC Championship football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Crabtree, the former 49er wideout, is meeting with the Raiders today in Alameda after failing to secure the type of payday he has been looking for thus far in the open market. Crabtree, who was the tenth overall pick of the 2009 draft, is reportedly looking for a deal in the range of $4.5M per season, and has already turned down an offer from the Miami Dolphins for a reported $3M per year. In his time with the 49ers, Crabtree earned about $5.4M per season against the cap, with a base salary of roughly $4M per season.
In a six year career that has seen him available for 79 regular season games out of a possible 96 (he started 77 games), Crabtree has put up decent numbers: 347 receptions, 4,327 yards and 26 TD’s, much of which was accomplished with Alex Smith as his quarterback. In eight career playoff appearances, Crabtree has added another 40 receptions, 516 yards and four scores, including a remarkable run during the 49ers 2012 Super Bowl run in which he caught 20 passes for 285 yards and three scores during the playoffs. All told, he has appeared in 85 meaningful games for the 49ers, starting 82 of them, out of a possible 104 games. In those 85 game appearances he has averaged 4.6 receptions per game, and 12.5 yards per reception. Not spectacular numbers, not terrible. He peaked in 2011 and 2012, when he led the team in receptions both years, with 72 and 85 catches, respectively. Last season, he finished second on the team behind Anquan Boldin, with a respectable 68 receptions.
While not as productive in 2014 as the Raiders leading receiver, James Jones, he wasn’t far behind, and for a career, Crabtree has been more productive than any receiver currently on the Raider roster. He’s a capable receiver who helped lead a team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2012, and at only 27 years of age he still has a couple of good years of football left. That said, there are questions about his durability and work ethic, and his career hasn’t seemed to recover from that now famous play in the end zone in the 2013 NFC Championship.
The average annual salary that free agent wideouts have signed for this offseason is about $4.3M, and Crabtree, who is neither a big-time deep threat nor a consistent red zone target, is no more than an average wide receiver. That said, players with dramatically lower production than Crabtree have received bigger deals: Kenny Britt is making nearly $4.6M a year, and has never had more than 48 receptions in a season; Eddie Royal, who in seven years has less receptions than Crabtree does in six, is making $5M per season. If those players can get that money, Crabtree should be able to get his.
The Raiders have $4.5M per year to blow for the next two years, easily. Crabtree is almost out of options, and would probably sign to a Reggie McKenzie special – a deal for good money but with hardly anything guaranteed after year one, allowing the team to cut him in 2016 if he doesn’t work out. Crabtree, at his ceiling, is a capable and productive veteran wideout who can help out the Raiders young quarterback, and at his floor, he still helps the Raiders spend enough money to satisfy the NFLPA and doesn’t do any long-term cap damage. With the Raiders still very thin on proven production in the receiving corps, he may be the perfect get for Reggie McKenzie.