It's no secret that the Kansas City Chiefs will focus on roster changes at wide receiver this offseason. After a record-setting season in which nary a single wideout caught a touchdown pass, it's clear the team needs an overhaul from the top down.
The questions are many, from whether or not Dwayne Bowe is worth the money he's making to just how promising Albert Wilson will be. It's impossible to tell at this point what will happen with receivers already on the roster. Outside of that, the same few names are discussed among potential additions, including free agents like Randall Cobb and trade targets like Josh Gordon. But what about Michael Crabtree?
Crabtree should be familiar to most as the former top 10 draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers. Crabtree didn't exactly break through as the elite wide receiver the Niners envisioned when they selected him, but he has turned in very solid numbers in his six year career. He's started 77 games in that time and returned from an Achilles injury in 2013 to start all 16 games this season.
Crabtree reportedly "intimated to members of the media" that he'll test the free agent market, per the 49ers website. While Crabtree is saying the right things in regards to a potential return to San Fran, he's also aware that he might have already played his final game in a Niners uniform.
"I guess they say every good thing will come to an end," Crabtree said. "I guess we're living that."
But what exactly can fans expect from Crabtree? David Fucillo from Niners Nation recently answered a few of our questions.
It's no secret that Michael Crabtree hasn't been the player he was drafted to be, but what are the biggest strengths there when he's on the field?
Fucillo: Crabtree has footwork that I would argue is as good as anybody in the league. He is not a game-breaking deep threat, but he can maneuver in tight spaces incredibly well, allowing him to get open for shorter passes. That footwork also means he is a strong threat once he gets the ball in his hands. At Texas Tech, he was used frequently in bubble screens. The 49ers did not use them a ton, but they tried to use him on shorter stuff. His ability to get YAC on short plays was quite impressive.
He also has some great hands. I don't know that they're the greatest ever, as Jim Harbaugh pronounced, but he has great hands.
What are the things fans should never expect to see from Crabtree?
Fucillo: He's not a speed threat. He's not a guy who will burst down the field to get open for a deep ball. You'll see him occasionally get behind cornerbacks, but that is more due to creating an advantage with his footwork, as opposed to blowing past them. I think he works best as a 1A type of receiver as opposed to pure #1. He can be incredibly productive in that role, but there are some limitations.
Health is another issue. I won't say he's guaranteed to get hurt, but his lower body has been problematic dating back to college. He entered the NFL with feet issues. He had a great 2012 while healthy, but then tore his Achilles heading into 2013. He returned late in the season, and was clearly not 100 percent. He seemed back to 100 percent to start 2014, but dealt with various bumps, bruises and strains.
If you had to bet on whether or not Crabtree would be in San Fran next year, you'd say...?
Fucillo: I don't think he returns to San Francisco, but it will be interesting to see how the market for him shakes out. Given his relatively poor 2014 performance, and the injuries he has dealt with, it is entirely possible he won't find a huge market. Part of that will depend on what happens with the franchise tag for guys like Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas. I'd say his chances of returning to San Francisco are no more than 20 or 30 percent.
For a team like the Chiefs who have a completely bare cupboard, is this a signing that makes sense? If so, what sort of market would you expect for him?
Fucillo: I actually think it makes some sense for a team like Kansas City that really lacks receiving weapons (well, among actual wide receivers). A healthy Crabtree would be an upgrade for them, and the kind of receiver from which Alex Smith can benefit. Smith is not a guy who will destroy teams downfield, and connecting with Crabtree on shorter stuff is right in both their wheelhouses. I am curious to see if Crabtree would want to reunite with Smith. He got off to a strong start in 2012 before Smith was replaced by Kaepernick. I wonder if Crabtree would look for another "live arm" instead of a quarterback like Smith.
I mentioned above that his market could be limited, but again, it depends on how the rest of the receiver class is viewed. There could be some decent money for Crabtree. He won't be at the top of that market, but as they say, it only takes one team.