ALAMEDA – The four-year, big-money contract extension receiver Michael Crabtree signed this week is good for player and team.
Crabtree gets a bunch of money up front in exchange for being a key piece to an explosive offense.
That’s the basics. Charles Woodson believes the Crabtree deal has an ripple effect. It sends a signal throughout the Raiders locker room: Work hard, fit in, play well and, when the time comes, you’ll get rewarded.
“With Michael, the desire to reach an agreement was mutual,” Woodson said Wednesday. “He really, really wanted to be here, and they made it happen and got it done.
“That says a lot to other guys. When they get in that position, the team will take care of them.”
Crabtree was producing well on a one-year prove-it deal, and certainly would’ve had suitors on the open market. The Raiders offered a competitive deal – they have cash to do that several times over – and Crabtree decided to stay put.
That’s a sign the Raiders are becoming a more attractive place to play. Bringing in top veterans has been a real struggle. The Raiders were losing at a rapid rate. They had a terrible practice facility, a carousel of anonymous coaches and no real hope for the future.
The Raiders now have some things working in their favor. They have a respected coach in Jack Del Rio, a franchise-type quarterback in Derek Carr and a young foundation. They poured money into the practice facility and the fields, making it a far better place to work.
Woodson believes Crabtree’s decision to stay and the Raiders decision to pay will provide proof this isn’t the same old Raiders.
“That’s great, because you hear that people don’t want to come to Oakland, that they don’t want to play here,” Woodson said. “Things are starting to change. With Crabtree signing his deal, other free agents will take notice once that time comes around. They’ll want to know why he wanted to stick around and play in Oakland. He’ll be a great ambassador for guys who are undecided. It says a lot. It’s a positive thing.”
Players universally lauded the Crabtree deal as a good thing. It’s also a sign the Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is following the Packers mantra: draft, develop and reward your own players.
They have several chances to do so, most notably with left tackle Donald Penn and punter Marquette King heading toward free agency. Those are players the Raiders hope to retain at proper value. Justin Tuck is also an option to bring back, and the team hopes to retain edge rusher Aldon Smith if he’s reinstated following his calendar-year suspension. Safety Charles Woodson will surely be welcomed back if he chooses to play in 2016.