Crazy alliteration aside, we are coming down the stretch towards 49ers training camp and have reached a critical juncture. 49ers rookies are scheduled to report to camp tomorrow. 49ers veterans are due in camp on Thursday. Amidst the joy of the return of football, we get the potential disappointment of a holdout by wide receiver Michael Crabtree. This post will focus on Michael Crabtree because even though Glen Coffee has not yet signed, word is that he's fairly close.
Until recently I really hadn't thought much about a potential Crabtree holdout. Obviously it was always a possibility and remains so until he officially signs. So, while this post is not the most fun to write, it's something we'll need to deal with in the meantime. Given how close we are to camp, articles are coming out left and right about the situation, as you've seen in the daily Golden Nuggets. We've had thoughts from Barrows, Maiocco and Pro Football Talk, among others. I'd imagine it will only pick up in the coming days.
Only two first round picks have signed contracts thus far. Given the importance of this I definitely will keep track of first round signings in the top 10 (and just behind Crabtree) in the coming days, as I'd imagine they'll snowball once they begin. According to Maiocco, Crabtree's agent, Eugene Turner, has had no trouble using the holdout to angle for a new contract:
At least four of Parker's clients had contract issues last season. Bills tackle Jason Peters skipped 43 days and missed the season opener. Rams running back Steven Jackson held out for 27 days before signing a new contract. Bears return man Devin Hester did not report for the first two days of camp before signing a new deal. And Cardinals rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie missed two practices before signing his contract.
One thing this definitely brought to mind was the irony that we should be somewhat thankful Drew Rosenhaus is representing Frank Gore. Rosenhaus may come across as a shark, but he usually tries to avoid holdouts. He'll hussle for that new contract, but his guy will usually be in camp. And thankfully the team got Frank Gore a new deal without any acrimony.
But back to Crabtree, this definitely appears to be a game of chicken. You've got a player who most thought was better than some of the guys ahead of him. At the same time, there is a system of slotting that has become standard operating procedure in the NFL. The one time I remember somebody getting a bit more money was when Chris Weinke was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 4th round of the 2001 NFL Draft. As I recall, they gave him a contract loaded with more incentives than your traditional 4th round pick will get. However, that was a bit of a unique situation.
And so, we're left to wait. Crabtree could end up signing today or tomorrow and this will quickly become a distant memory. Maiocco had one particularly interesting comment about the whole situation:
Crabtree hired Parker to be his agent. That's a key sentence. Parker works for Crabtree, so the agent is ultimately going to do what his client orders him to do. So if Crabtree truly wants to be on the practice field for the first day of training camp, he will be there.
Do folks believe that? Michael Crabtree is an adult and is certainly the boss in the agent/player relationship. However, is it really that cut and dry? He's in charge and if he isn't in camp it's really his fault? Or is it a situation where blame belongs to multiple parties? In the end all that matters is getting him into camp, but it's still an interesting thought.
As you can see, I've attached a poll. I mentioned full practice days because it's entirely possible he signs and misses an hour of camp or something like that. So this question is looking more at a full on holdout missing a complete day or more. I believe Patrick Willis signed his rookie contract the opening day of training camp.