Shutdown Corner - NFL

When the Oakland Raiders, for some unknown reason, made Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) the first wide receiver taken in the 2009 draft, it was seen as a huge gift to the San Francisco 49ers, who then got to take the best wide receiver in the draft, Michael Crabtree(notes), at 10th overall.

And it was indeed a gift, but not a gift that didn't come with some strings attached. The 49ers are now having a little trouble signing Crabtree. The 49ers want to pay him like the 10th overall pick, which he was, and Crabtree wants to be paid like the best receiver in the draft, which he is.

Joe Schad at ESPN.com reports some comments today from Crabtree's cousin/adviser, David Wells, that have escalated the tensions. Wells says Crabtree is perfectly willing to sit out this year and go back into the draft a year from now.

"We are prepared to do it," Wells said. "Michael just wants fair-market value. They took him with the 10th pick and you have Darrius Heyward-Bey [the seventh overall pick by the Oakland Raiders] getting $38 million? This week is crucial. Michael was one of the best players in the draft and he just wants to be paid like one of the best players. This week is very crucial."

Basically, the argument is this:

49ers Management: Listen, we took you 10th overall, and we'd like to pay you like you were taken 10th overall. That's generally how these things work. You make less than the guy taken ninth overall, but more than the guy taken 11th overall? Sound fair?

Team Crabtree: No. I'm the best wide receiver in the draft, so you should pay me like the best receiver in the draft.

49ers Management: But you weren't drafted the highest. Darrius Heyward-Bey was the highest-drafted wide receiver.

Team Crabtree: Hey, it's not our fault the Raiders are dumb.

49ers Management: The Raiders are kinda dumb, aren't they?

Team Crabtree: Yes. Now, I'm better than that guy, you know I'm better than that guy, so give me more money than that guy.

That guy, by the way, got a five-year contract with $23.5 million guaranteed.

It's also important to note that the same report quotes Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker, as saying that he hasn't made any threats about sitting out the season. Now, that doesn't mean that they haven't thought about it or talked about it, but I'd be hesitant to assume that David Wells, cousin/adviser, speaks for the entire Crabtree camp on this one.

Besides, it's only Aug. 6. Camps just opened. It's way too early to be talking about sitting out a season and going back into next year's draft. The way, way, way more likely scenario is that Crabtree and the 49ers eventually work something out, even if the holdout drags into the regular season.

At that point, maybe it'll be time to start worrying about Crabtree sitting out the year. Until then, though, I wouldn't put a ton of stock into this.

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