ALAMEDA –- Michael Crabtree doesn’t talk to the media much, but a new four-year contract extension prompted a rare exchange with the veteran Raiders receiver.
He wasn’t but a few minutes into Thursday’s Q&A when defensive end Justin Tuck chimed in with an inquiry.
“Can I get a loan?” Tuck said from afar, his voice rising above crowd. “I’ll take check or money order. What about cash? PayPal? I’ll even take an IOU.”
Not that Tuck needs the money. He’s made some in his day. Crabtree, especially now, has money to spend.
He signed a four year deal worth up to $35 million which, according to NFL Network, includes $11 million in 2016 and $18 million in total by 2017. Those totals are guaranteed for injury, with the last two years armed as a pay-as-you-go deal.
It’s the type of contract that would keep Crabtree from testing the market, more than happy to stay in a place where he feels comfortable, likes quarterback Derek Carr and is a vital cog in an explosive offense.
Crabtree bet on himself by signing a one-year, $3.2 million contract with additional incentives following a disappointing offseason experience where he didn’t get the long-term deal he was looking for.
He has 66 catches for 760 yards and seven touchdowns through 12 games. Those numbers and a solid locker room presence made him worthy of this new deal.
“It’s always nice to get it done, right?” Crabtree said. “That way we can just go play football. You ain’t worried about where you’re going to be next year and all that stuff. It’s pretty neat to know you’re wanted and you want to be on a team and you’re here.”
The passing game now has continuity, with Crabtree, Amari Cooper, tight end Clive Walford and quarterback Derek Carr under contract the next few seasons. Seth Roberts will also be under club control a while, giving continuity to the group.
“We’re building,” Crabtree said. “We got some good guys in the locker room, offense and defensive wise. D.C. has been good. Amari’s been good. Seth has been good. We’ve got a good core, a good receiving corps right now, and I feel like we’re going to build on it.
“We’re growing man, and I’m just happy to be here and really take on whatever role they need me to take on.”
His role has diversified after spending six years with the 49ers in Santa Clara. The 28-year old stands as the passing game’s older brother, mentoring a group where no receiver has more four years experience.
“He definitely has his own (leadership) style,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said. “He’s definitely a leader at practice. In the meeting room, he can share his experiences from his time with the 49ers, postseason, regular season. He’s a terrific athlete. Those guys that come along that have been amazing in high school, college and pro, they just have a lot of knowledge that if they’re willing to share, makes everyone around them better.”
Having continuity on offense should help. The Raiders remodeled their offense last offseason, with money and draft picks spent on skill players and offensive linemen alike. That has given Derek Carr weapons to work with and grow up with as this team transitions out of the cellar.
“Stability is important,” Musgrave said. “Being able to know the system or know your teammates, know your coaches real well. Then you can really start to get to that graduate level of putting your own spin on the techniques, just being better and better. The guys that have been in the same system with the same teammates over years, they really get to that elite level.”
Crabtree played on some elite teams in Santa Clara, but there’s one box left to check.
“I’ve seen it all, man,” Crabtree said. “I’ve been to the playoffs, Super Bowl, the last thing on my list is to win the Super Bowl. Whatever we need to do to get there, we’re going to do it.”