Crabtree Begins To Earn $40 Million Next Sunday

It turns out the devil in that $40 million contract really is in the details

By Joe Kukura
|  Monday, Oct 19, 2009  |  Updated 8:50 AM PDT
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49ers Show Softer Side in New Calendar

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Michael Crabtree's San Francisco 49ers contract has a few unrealistic incentives.

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No 49er game today?  No problem.  Let's just look ahead to next week. 

First-round draft pick Michael Crabtree will make his professional debut in a San Francisco uniform when the team faces the Houston Texans. 

That debut follows a marathon holdout in which he and his agent Eugene Parker were demanding a $40 million dollar contract. 

Those two will tell you they got their money. 

The official word on the day it was signed is that the contract was for six years and $32 million that could maximize to $40 million with incentives. 

Now the incentives are becoming public and it turns out Crabtree will have to fly to Colorado in a homemade balloon before he reaches that $40 million.

ProFootballTalk.com has the deets and they're so outlandish that Crabtree couldn't reach them if he was the second coming of Jerry Rice.

"On three occasions in the first five years of the deal," PFT notes, "(1) Crabtree must participate in 80 percent of the snaps on offense; (2) Crabtree must qualify for the Pro Bowl; (3) the 49ers must win 14 games; and (4) Crabtree must be named Super Bowl MVP."

It is mathematically impossible for Michael Crabtree to play 80 percent  of the snaps on offense this year when he's already missed nearly half of the season. 

Crabtree doesn't need to hit just one of those incentives, he needs to hit them all, three times in the next five seasons. Even in the 49ers' heyday of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Carmen Policy's salary cap chicanery, the Niners never won three Super Bowls within five seasons. And even in their five Super Bowl seasons, only twice did they win 14 or more regular season games.

And that $17 million in "guaranteed money"? ProFootballTalk.com reports that "Of the $17 million in guaranteed money, $6.395 of it is guaranteed for injury only." In other words, Crabtree can be cut for performance reasons and still not see most of that $17 million "guaranteed".

So if Crabtree plays more like J.J. Stokes than Jerry Rice, he'll also be playing with Monopoly money.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who promises to try and avoid repeating the names "Stokes" or "Druckenmiller" in any future columns.

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