San Francisco 49ers' first-round draft pick Michael Crabtree is now the only pick from the 2009 NFL Draft, out of 256 total players selected, who still has not signed a contract and reported to his team.
The regular season starts in less than a week, and Crabtree hasn't had a lick of practice since a minicamp in June. And he was limited then with a stress fracture. This holdout is now officially in "JaMarcus Russell 2007" territory, and how much did that holdout help JaMarcus' development as a player? If you're not pushing the panic button over this Michael Crabtree situation, then you're probably an Arizona Cardinals fan.
Now comes a surprising claim from former 49er Deion Sanders, who is close to Crabtree and advised Coach Singletary to select him, that two other NFL teams have made trade offers to the 49ers for Crabtree.
"Is (Crabtree) really willing or prepared to sit out the entire year?," Sanders said on a recent NFL Network segment still available online, "I think so. I really do think so." And then Sanders drops his surprising nugget of gossip.
"There have been two teams that have contacted the San Francisco 49ers desiring a trade and will pay this kid," Sanders said. "And he knows that."
Sanders has presumably been in contract with Crabtree and/or his advisors. Crabtree's agent Eugene Parker used to be Sanders' agent, and Sanders lays out Crabtree's argument against "slotting" of draft picks in lucid terms. "Let's just take a peek at the top 11 guys that are in camp. I'm talking about the real money" Sanders said on the broadcast, accompanied by a graphic showing the contract deals agreed to by the top 11 draft picks. "Number five (Mark) Sanchez, literally in real money, got more money than the number four. So what's up with that slot?"
"Number seven Heyward-Bey got more money than Andre Smith, the number six, in real money," Sanders continued.
It should noted that that the NFL Network graphic completely contradicted what Sanders was claiming. Each pick, in fact, received less overall money and less guaranteed money than the player selected in the slot before him. Standard slotting was, in fact, in effect. I have absolutely no idea what Deion Sanders means when he says "real money".
And as host Rich Eisen pointed out, other teams trying to trade for Crabtree is a completely moot point. The deadline for trading a player selected in the 2009 draft, as Dan Brown will happily tell you in the Mercury News, has already passed on August 16. If Crabtree thinks he's going to be traded, he's going to have to wait until March 1, 2010. And until then, he'll have to live on whatever couple hundred dollars he got from doing those Subway advertisements.
Deion says Crabtree's happy to do just that. "He is willing to sit down and relax and he's secure," Sanders insisted. "He is not in dire need of money at this time, and I can say that honestly."
Interesting that Crabtree is "not in dire need of money". Because I was under the impression that he is holding out over.... umm, money, right?
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who has to wonder what's up with Deion Sanders' wife when she lets him leave the house to appear on television in a rainbow-striped shirt and a bright pink tie.