The Raiders have signed Michael Crabtree to extension that will keep the receiver in Oakland through the 2019 season, the club announced. Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link) was the first to break news of the deal, while Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) had the specifics: four years, $35MM, with nearly $19MM guaranteed.
The $8.75MM average annual value would rank 13th among receivers, while that $19MM in guarantees would place 10th, as Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap notes (Twitter link). Of course, we’ll have to wait and see if that’s a full guarantee, and whether the reported total value contains any inflating incentives.
The 28-year-old Crabtree has been a revelation for Oakland since joining the club on a one-year deal this offeason, posting 760 yards on 66 receptions to go along with seven touchdowns. He’s actually out-targeted first-round rookie Amari Cooper (115-105), and he’s helped the Raiders offense make the leap from 30th in offensive DVOA in 2014 to ninth this season, per Football Outsiders. On a personal level, Crabtree is in the midst of his best season to date, as he’s on pace to set career bests for both receptions and touchdowns.
Signing a one-year pillow contract, as he did last offseason, would have seemed implausible for Crabtree just a few seasons ago, as the former first-round pick started his career with four solid years with the 49ers. But a lost 2013 season, and a 2014 which saw him fail to surpass 700 yards receiving, forced his market to plummet, a fall only ended by his one-year, $3.2MM agreement with Oakland. For what’s it worth, Crabtree will likely reach his lowest level of incentive-based pay this week, and has an outside chance to reach his maximum incentive level of $1.4MM.
According to Caplan (Twitter links), the Raiders had been having internal discussions about extending Crabtree for some time, noting that team officials were impressed with the veteran receiver’s attitude and leadership abilities from the get-go. Crabtree’s teammates also seemed to enjoy his presence, as quarterback Derek Carr indicated in November that he’d love to see Crabtree extended.
Oakland has now locked up one its most important offensive pieces, and the club now has a solid core — Carr, Cooper, running back Latavius Murray, and tight end Clive Walford — around which to build, along with an offensive line that’s played much better than expected. A key piece of that offensive line — left tackle Donald Penn — is (like Crabtree was) a pending free agent, so perhaps he’ll be the next item on the docket as general manager Reggie McKenzie continues his rebuild in the Bay Area. The Raiders can certainly afford to spend, as Over the Cap lists the club as No. 1 in 2016 cap space, with more than $72MM available (not counting the Crabtree extension, obviously).
For Crabtree’s part, he could be passing up a nice sum of money on the open market, as he wouldn’t have faced much in the way of positional competition next spring. Bears pass-catcher Alshon Jeffery is only pass-catcher who surely would have secured a larger contract, and Jeffery is a candidate for the franchise tag. For as good a season as he’s having, Crabtree still wouldn’t have been worth a franchise tag, meaning he could have entered the open market unfettered, and with Jeffery out of the way, as potentially the top receiver option available.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.