Michael Crabtree served the Raiders well. He gave the receiver corps instant credibility back in 2015, when Amari Cooper was just a rookie and the Raiders were fresh off a 3-13 disaster.
The veteran got his own career back on track after a sour ending in San Francisco, with 922 yards and nine touchdowns that led to a contract extension.
Crabtree signed a four-year, $34 million contract extension on Dec. 9, 2015. He only played half of it. He got $17.6 million out of the deal before he was released Thursday in favor of Jordy Nelson.
This piece isn’t about that transaction. We have to mention the sad ending, where Crabtree clashed with Jack Del Rio’s coaching staff, conflicted some with Derek Carr (per The Athletic) and let frustration permeate through his position group.
He was barely used down the stretch last year due to aforementioned factors which, as much as anything, led new head coach Jon Gruden to go with Nelson over Crabtree in nearly a straight financial swap.
General manger Reggie McKenzie said Crabtree was in his 2018 plans until, of course, he found something better.
Crabtree’s time with the Raiders didn’t end well. NFL divorces rarely do. Just ask Packers favorite Jordy Nelson, kicked to the curb after a decade’s excellent service.
This isn’t a request to feel bad about his unceremonious exit. He’ll make millions somewhere else. My advice: Don’t forget the good times.
Don’t forget Crabtree’s penchant for clutch catches, especially in the 2016 season. His game-deciding two-point conversion in New Orleans was a thing of beauty. So were all three touchdowns in a road win against Baltimore. How about the “slice of blue” touchdown catch in San Diego? Or, how about the game-winning score on an untimed down last year to beat Kansas City?
There are too many third-down conversions to count, and 25 total touchdowns in three seasons in silver and black. He was Derek Carr’s security blanket, a heavily targeted option and often the No. 1 guy even with Amari Cooper on the pitch.
He was integral in the team’s first playoff push since 2002, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. Crabtree wasn’t perfect. Not even close. He didn’t like the media and rarely spoke to reporters, but that never mattered much to me. His Aqib Talib quarrels were a pockmark on his Raiders legacy, but he should be regarded as an excellent free-agent signing who gave the Raiders a lot in his time here.