My FanPosts have sometimes been called "sagas". I'll try to keep this one relatively brief.
Many of us seem to want to ignore the impending roster issue that we have to deal with sometime in the next twelve months ... what to do about Michael Crabtree? Huh? What's the problem? We just extend him with the most reasonable contract that we can negotiate and move forward ... right? Well, no ... that's not likely to happen. Why? Simple ... IF we prioritize the players that will need to be extended (and it's not likely that our FO will do anything else), there is simply not enough cap space to get it done.
First, we will have at least ten players whose current contract expires after the 2013 season and who will probably get extensions ... Bolden, Kyle Williams, Wilhoite, Cox, Wright, Brock, Asomugha, Haralson, and possibly Cam Johnson and Dobbs. Depending upon how they play during this season, there are another seven who could be extended ... Brown, Manningham, Dixon, McCoy, Dawson, Collie and Moore. I assume that neither Goodwin or Whitner will be extended. Mind you, these are only the 2014 expiring contracts.
Now, let's get to the bigger issue ... the thirteen contracts that will expire after the 2015 season that should be extended before then. Those players include Kaepernick, Aldon Smith, Iupati, Hunter, Miller, Crabtree, Culliver, Baldwin, Dorsey, Kilgore and Spillman. I assume that we will not extend Gore, Jennings or Snyder.
Surely you see the problem now ... "we can't extend everybody, we must prioritize." Given the probable extension pecking order, the cap space available, and the current market value for superior WRs, IMO there simply won't be enough cap space to extend Crabtree, based upon his probable salary demands and previous negotiation issues.
Some will say, let's just wait until we get the higher-priority guys extended, then take our chances on being able to negotiate an extension acceptable to Crabtree and his agent (Parker). If we fail, we fail, but we will still get a compensation pick when Crabs signs elsewhere. That is certainly one of the options, but how likely are we to succeed with that strategy and what are the consequences? Again, IMO, there is a very, very low probability of successfully extending Crabtree IF we extend higher priorities first. When he signs elsewhere we would likely receive a 3rd round compensation pick in the 2015 draft in return.
So, what are the alternatives? Seems to me that there are two, both involving a trade of Crabtree to another club. One possibility is a trade for a 2014 draft pick or picks; the other possibility is a trade for another player or players. In the case of a trade for a draft pick(s), my best guess is that we could possibly get a second and a third round pick for Crabtree ... basically the same compensation that Baalke got for Alex Smith.
How about a trade for another player? Do you have anybody in particular in mind? Actually, yes ... safety Jairus Byrd of the Buffalo Bills. What is the thinking? First, Byrd is one of the premier safeties in the NFL and is just approaching the prime of his career. Buffalo was unsuccessful over five months this spring/summer to reach agreement with Byrd on a multi-year contract extension. Consequently, Byrd just sighed a one-year franchise tender and the Bills cannot try again to reach a long-term agreement with him until next spring.
A number of the regional and national NFL reporters describe the situation as having a lot of "ill will" on both sides. In addition to the obvious money issues, Byrd is apparently frustrated with the fact that he has had to play four different defensive schemes for four different defensive coordinators since being drafted in the second round of the 2009 draft by Buffalo out of Oregon. Further, he is apparently frustrated with the perpetual losing atmosphere and coaching turnover. He says that he wants to play for "a winner." If the Bills really believe that Byrd wants to become a free agent and sign elsewhere, would they consider trading him in order to enhance the compensation in return? There's only one way to find out.
So ... what say you Niners Nation? What should Baalke do?