From the files of "Bullets The Chiefs Dodged", ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that former Texas Tech All-American wide receiver Michael Crabtree is planning to sit out the entire 2009 NFL season and re-enter the 2010 draft. The reason for Crabtree's decision apparently revolves around the 49ers' refusal to give Crabtree (the number 10 selection) a contract equal to or greater than the one Darius Heyward-Bey (the number 7 selection) received from the Oakland Raiders. The 49ers, in a rare bit of foresight, have declined to pay Crabtree a number that deviates greatly from the NFL's slotting system, which is probably the smart move for a WR who 1) was recuperating from an injury, 2) has yet to run a 40 time, 3) has a somewhat questionable work ethic and so-so NFL receiver tools, and 4) seems to be taking his advice from morons and manipulators.
There continue to be questions about when Crabtree will sign and the only certain answer is, "Not anytime soon." But there's a strong feeling right now that he won't sign all season long, and he will aim to get drafted in April by a team willing to pay him more than the 49ers. San Francisco has offered Crabtree a slotted deal with a value somewhere between picks No. 9 and picks No. 11. Crabtree wants to be paid more like a top pick. San Francisco hasn't relented, nor has Crabtree and now the holdout looks like a repeat from 1987, when first-round pick Kelly Stouffer refused to sign with the Cardinals before his rights were traded to Seattle.
There was quite a bit of buzz on AP about the idea of the Chiefs taking Michael Crabtree with the third pick in the 2009 draft. It's probably safe to say that if he's demanding a slot-busting contract as the number 10 pick he'd probably be asking for more than Matt Stafford got if he'd gone third. And he probably still wouldn't be in uniform going into the season, as Pioli doesn't strike me as someone who's going to break the bank to sign a guy with that many question marks.
I'll say this now...if Michael Crabtree holds out, he'll be lucky to get drafted on the first day in 2010. He certainly isn't going to get a $40 million contract in 2010, which Deion Sanders (one of Crabtree's "mentors") apparently thinks he's worth. He will, in fact, be lucky to get a contract equal to half of what he'd receive with this year's tenth slotted pick. And if he sits out a year there's an excellent chance he never turns into anything special or even useful as a pro player...as happened with notable delayed draft entries Mike Williams and Maurice Clarett (who are better comparison points than Stouffer). In short, Michael Crabtree looks for all the world like a guy whose pro career will fall victim to both his own youthful arrogance and the manipulations of world-class hustlers like Deion Sanders and Eugene Parker (Sanders' and now Crabtree's agent). And unless Parker has made arrangements with Crabtree to personally make up the difference in salary between what he'd get in slotted money and what he'll get in 2010, it looks like Parker is willing to throw away Crabtree's future in a likely futile attempt to challenge the NFL's slotting system...a challenge that will only lose leverage as the season goes on and the questions about Crabtree's abilities increase.
Can't say as I've got a lot of sympathy for Michael Crabtree (who deserves what he gets if he's not asking if his agent is looking out his best interests), but I do wonder if the NFL will perhaps start asking themselves whether they should look to distance themselves from NFL Network fixture Sanders and his increasingly shady role as "advisor" to young players and prospects.
I'm definitely glad Pioli kept the Chiefs out of this circus sideshow.