I just flipped on SportsCenter and caught some disturbing breaking news: John Clayton is reporting that due to negotiations with the San Francisco 49ers that have gone pretty much nowhere, Michael Crabtree is willing to sit out the entire season and re-enter the NFL Draft in 2010.
As of now none of the other major 49er blogs with access are running with this story, but ESPN is. Joe Schad’s reporting that David Wells (no, not THAT David Wells), Crabree’s cousin and adviser, had this to say:
“We are prepared to do it,” Wells said. “Michael just wants fair-market value. They took him with the 10th pick and you have Darrius Heyward-Bey [the seventh overall pick by the Oakland Raiders] getting $38 million? This week is crucial. Michael was one of the best players in the draft and he just wants to be paid like one of the best players. This week is very crucial.”
This doesn’t mean we should all forget our excitement about Crabtree falling into the Niners’ laps on draft day, but there are several red flags here. First, we’ve never seen Crabtree do anything football-related since last season, so we’re just left to take everyone’s word that the stress fracture in his foot has fully healed.
Second, if Crabtree surrounds himself with agents and advisers who fill his head with ideas like “Who cares where you were drafted, you should be paid like a top-3 pick,” what’s to stop Crabtree from holding out after every season in which he feels he’s out-performed his contract? And are we going to have to keep dealing with this cousin popping off in the press?
Now what? The 49ers can’t budge, because that would mean throwing away the entire slotting system rookie salaries are based on. Crabtree was great in college, but he needs all the reps he can get in a pro-style offense that hardly resembles the spread offense they run at Texas Tech. Also, with Josh Morgan and Brandon Jones reportedly playing great in training camp, Crabtree might find it difficult to find any playing time if he misses much more camp.
My guess is this is just a lot of hot air from a cocky family member, some guy who’s probably getting antsy after purchasing a Yukon Denali with a Blu-Ray player and TV’s in the headrests and steering wheel or something. This Wells guy probably feels like he knows how to negotiate, and that Crabtree’s agent (the notoriously difficult Eugene Parker) isn’t being aggressive enough.
My worst fear is that Crabtree’s foot HASN’T fully healed, and this is Crabtree’s way to buy himself some time to get his health back. I don’t think this is the case, but at this point one can’t rule anything out. Allowing your cousin to make a ridiculous public statement like this is unsettling to say the least; hopefully there’s nothing behind it besides hot air from a greedy family member.