Money Doesn't Grow On (Crab)Trees

Rocco Brown-MorrisContributor IAugust 9, 2009

Part of me wants to try to understand Michael Crabtree’s point of view as he holds out of the 49ers training camp because of money demands.

He has accomplished his lifelong dream of making it to the NFL and, like any potential employee searching for a job, he wants to be fairly compensated for his talent and ability. Likewise, many rookies view their initial contract as their best opportunity to receive guaranteed money, as their bodies and careers can crumble on any given snap.

Unfortunately for Crabtree, rookies get paid based on where they are drafted and not by what they believe they deserve.

The NFL draft has evolved into a (soon to be three day) primetime television event and reason for fans to celebrate nationwide. The draft gives fans a glimmer of hope that perhaps next year their team will have improved star power and a better chance to compete for the Super Bowl.

And with fan interest comes media attention, and scouting analysts like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. report every piece of information and conduct mock drafts in order to excite fans.

However, mock drafts are simply that; fake drafts that simulate what may transpire. They do not have any actual impact on how teams scout, assess, and pay rookies. In fact, many 2009 mock drafts had defensive end Tyson Jackson going late in the first round, but the Kansas City Chiefs selected him third overall.

Should he get paid substantially less money because of what computer nerds projected based on rumors, college statistics, and the 40-yard dash? Absolutely not.

Players are paid based on facts, and although Crabtree may one day be an All-Pro receiver, he was drafted tenth overall and will be paid accordingly. If he were to command the type of contract that Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey signed, which guarantees at least $23.5 million, Crabtree would be paid about 20 percent more money than last year’s tenth selection.

That is a significant increase and an unlikely business decision.

And while Crabtree’s cousin/advisor has made threats that the receiver will sit out the entire season and enter next year’s draft if necessary, that scenario seems extremely improbable and ill-advised.

While Crabtree holds out he will be unable to practice with any NFL team, so questions and criticism regarding his surgically repaired foot and diva-like personality will only magnify by next April. Crabtree would lose millions of dollars if he entered the draft and slipped out of the top-ten, which in all probability he would.

Team owner Jed York has the upper hand in terms of negotiations; however, that does not make it any less urgent that the Niners sign Crabtree and reach an agreement that pleases both parties.

I mean, if your job is to flip hamburger patties and you believe you are drastically underpaid, you might drop a few more burgers on the ground than you would if you were happy with your occupation.

And the last thing the Niners need is a crabby, loud-mouthed, and temperamental receiver that lets passes slide through his fingers like greasy patties (ahem, T.O.).

The Niners have five legitimate receives in Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan, Jason Hill, Arnaz Battle, and the recently injured Brandon Jones, but Crabtree may one day be the best of the bunch so it is important that management puts a smile on his face and the ball in his hands.

While San Francisco deals with the contentious, controversial and complaining Crabtree, somewhere across the foggy Bay a mysterious grin conspicuously beams across Al Davis's face.


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