Crabtree’s base deal: six years, $32 million
In the wake of the news that the 49ers have signed receiver Michael Crabtree after an extended holdout, there has been not a hint of the dollars to be paid to Crabtree.
And since this means that his agent hasn’t leaked the numbers, it means that his agent feels no specific motivation to do so.
Possibly because his agent isn’t all that thrilled to have his name on the deal.
So the numbers will come from sources other than Crabtree’s agent. And we’ve gotten our mitts into them.
Per a league source, Crabtree has signed a six-year, $32 million contract. (The total includes guaranteed money, base salaries, and the one-time incentive based on achieving minimum playing time.)
The deal also includes $17 million in guaranteed money.
As reported elsewhere, the deal can void to five years based on performance triggers, wiping out a final year base salary of $4 million. But they won’t be easily reached.
The source tells us that, in his first four seasons (including 2009), Crabtree must either qualify for two Pro Bowls, or he must qualify for one Pro Bowl in one year and he must participate in 80 percent of the offensive snaps in a separate year in which the team makes the playoffs.
In other words, if in 2010 he qualifies for the Pro Bowl and the team makes the playoffs and he participates in 80 percent of the snaps, he’ll still need to make it to the Pro Bowl or achieve the 80-percent/playoffs in another season.
Since the chances of Crabtree making the Pro Bowl or participating in 80 percent of the offensive snaps this year is roughly zero percent, he’ll have three years to get it done.
And it won’t be easy. Frankly, he’ll be hard pressed to make it to one Pro Bowl in three years with the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith, the other Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, DeSean Jackson, Johnny Knox, Percy Harvin, Greg Jennings, Roddy White, T.J. Houshmandzadeh in the same conference.
So, by all appearances, it’s a six-year deal. And at $17 million in guaranteed money, the per-year guarantee is a tepid $2.83 million per year.
There’s another problem with the deal -- it has no mid-tier incentive package. Instead, the additional $8 million that Crabtree can earn (pushing the max value to six years, $40 million) requires the kind of unrealistic, mega-star performances that no rookie is likely to ever achieve.
So while the contract paid to Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji covers five years and pays $22.5 million, he has the ability (if he’s a solid player) to make up the difference between his base deal and Crabtree’s five-year, $28 million haul via the mid-tier incentive package in Raji’s deal.
And unless Crabtree meets the performance thresholds necessary to void the sixth year, he’ll be stuck under contract for another year at a base salary of only $4 million.
There’s one other area of concern with the deal. Crabtree, per the source, received no option bonus. Instead, he has significant money tied to a fairly new device known as a “discretionary salary advance,” which unlike an opition bonus is subject to forfeiture if Crabtree decides in a year or two that he wants to hold out for a better deal. (We’re also told that the 49ers have included language that would make certain escalators subject to forfeiture, too.)
Meanwhile, the deal falls well short of the mark for which Crabtree and agent Eugene Parker were aiming -- the five-year, $38.25 million contract paid by the Raiders to receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick in the draft.
Even if Crabtree successfully voids the final year, he’ll make more than $2 million per year less on average than Heyward-Bey.
Thus, as we explained earlier in the day, this is a deal that Crabtree could have done in July, which would have given him a much better chance of making a contribution to the 49ers during his rookie year.
So while the final outcome can be described as win-win, the broader view suggests that it’s really a lose-lose situation.