But that windfall isn't without more risk, including the possibility of having to be stuck in a six-year deal rather than a five-year deal if Crabtree's an average player rather than a star.
That was the analysis made by two sources who had examined the contract, which Crabtree agreed to early Wednesday morning.
As one source put it, "There's more risk than you'd like for the player, but it's a decent recovery considering the circumstances. I wouldn't call it a great contract, but it's not terrible."
Agent Eugene Parker explained that he felt the deal struck a balance between what the 49ers were initially offering (five years, $20 million) and the harsh option of Crabtree going back into the draft.
"The key in any negotiation is that you have a win-win for both sides," Parker said. "Michael learned a lot about the financial side of the game in this process, but he's going to be a better player for it and he understands that."
Crabtree's six-year deal has an expected value of $32 million, including $17 million guaranteed. In addition, the final year of the deal is voidable under one of two scenarios: The first is that he makes one Pro Bowl, and in a different season he plays 80 percent of the downs and the team makes the playoffs. The second scenario is that Crabtree makes two Pro Bowls.
In return for the voidable clause (which has been reached by only three of 47 receivers who were drafted between 1997 and 2007), the 49ers secured protection in the contract against Crabtree holding out at some point. Crabtree must show up for all offseason work and training camp or he will be forced to forfeit part of the money in the contract, a league source said.
The upside of the deal is that Crabtree could make more money over the first three, four or five years than the two players drafted ahead of him, No. 8 pick Eugene Monroe(notes) of Jacksonville and No. 9 pick B.J. Raji(notes) of Green Bay.
Assuming Crabtree hits a minimum playing-time incentive in either of the first two years, he can make $19 million over the first three years of the contract, $23 million over the first four and $28 million over the first five. By comparison, Monroe can make $18.86 million over three, $21.5 million over four and $25 million over five years. Raji will make $18.16 million over three, $20.5 million over four and $23 million over five years, although he can boost his five-year income to $28.5 million relatively easy by reaching a 65 percent playing-time threshold.
Thus, Crabtree was able to get more out of the 49ers from that perspective.
The problem is that Crabtree faces risk with the minimum playing-time incentives because he has already missed four games this season. In order for him to reach the 35 percent playing-time figure for this season that's involved in the bonus, he would have to play nearly half the downs for the rest of the season.
In 2010, the minimum percentage rises to 45 percent, meaning that even if he becomes a starter, injury could significantly hurt his chances for making the incentive. If Crabtree hits the incentive in 2011 or 2012, the amount of money he could make over five years drops progressively – $21.395 million in the worst-case scenario.
That said, the contract does protect Crabtree if he becomes the type of success so many people expected before a stress fracture in his foot caused his stock to drop before the draft.
For instance, of the 19 wide receivers drafted in the first round between 2002 and 2005, six of them have made the Pro Bowl – Larry Fitzgerald(notes), Andre Johnson(notes), Roddy White(notes), Roy Williams, Braylon Edwards(notes) and Javon Walker(notes). Of those six, Fitzgerald and Johnson would have met Crabtree's standard to void the final year. Going back to 1997, Randy Moss would have been the other wide receiver to meet the criteria.
Of the other 13 wide receivers drafted between 2002 and 2005, six are out of football (Matt Jones(notes), Mike Williams, Reggie Williams(notes), Rashaun Woods(notes), Charles Rogers(notes) and Ashley Lelie(notes)) and the other seven have had a range of sketchy (Troy Williamson(notes), Donte' Stallworth(notes)) to solid (Lee Evans(notes), Michael Jenkins(notes)) careers. Overall, 11 of the 19 have already gotten a second contract worth more than their original deal.