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Then there were two

Though it took a while, the process of signing rookie draft picks has narrowed down to two players.

And as we predicted accurately (for a change) at PFTV in early August, the last two men standing (or, as the case may be, sitting) are 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and Bengals tackle Andre Smith.

The problem, to date, is that in each case one of the sides refuses to respect the slotting process.  Crabtree, the tenth overall pick, wants more than Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey received from the Raiders at No. 7, and the Bengals want to pay Smith, the sixth pick, less than Oakland coughed up at one spot lower.

Smith’s agent, Alvin Keels, has been telling his Twitter followers that he is “brainstorming” for ways to “bridge this gap,” and he has hinted at a face-to-face meeting with Katie Blackburn of the Bengals, who simply doesn’t seem to care about the money the Raiders paid to Heyward-Bey.

For Crabtree, the only window into the player’s thought processes came from his adviser-cousin’s public bluster regarding skipping the season, which agent Eugene Parker then tried to pretend never happened.

The Niners remain unfazed (or at least they’re acting that way).  “ I’m not thinking about it a whole lot,” coach Mike Singletary said Friday in comments circulated by the team.  “These receivers who are here, they are busting their tails day-in and day-out.  Those are the guys we are evaluating.  We haven’t allowed anything else to come into the picture where we are thinking, ‘What if this?’  We are just going to continue to move forward.”

And so the impasse will continue to move forward, with no end in sight.

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18 Responses to “Then there were two”
  1. Dr. Michael says: Aug 22, 2009 10:17 AM

    Crabtree and Andre Smith-where’s Tony Dungheap? Surely they deserve a first chance…right?

  2. barking mad says: Aug 22, 2009 10:18 AM

    the bengals are a freaking JOKE

  3. Golden_Niner says: Aug 22, 2009 10:40 AM

    I’m telling you, punk ass Crybaby needs to get his ass whooped. I pray my Niners don’t sign this chump.

  4. Harm City Homer says: Aug 22, 2009 10:58 AM

    The problem is the slotting system is not official at all. The teams can pay the players pretty much whatever they want, but why should they?
    No other team has the right to match the offer or give the player more money even if they would be happy to.
    Until they fix the salary scale accross the entire NFL to be more like the NBA, there can be no rookie slotting system as the top end contracts set the bar for free agency. Player salary is completly arbitrary based on what someone else got, not how good you are or how valuable you are to the team.
    Who cares where a player was drafted? Does that mean they can play better than the 11th but worse than the 9th guy? The answer is no.
    Do not hate the player, hate the game.
    Smith and Crabtree were the #1 and #2 prospects before the bowl season started. Both left school early adn did not perform well in the predraft time, but were not allowed to do the all star games and prove what they were worth vs other prospects. Smith has no one to blame for getting fat and running around with no shirt, but Crabtree has a broken bone to blame for dropping 5-9 spots and losing 10-30 million.
    Not many players hold out the entire year, but in the case of these 2 players, there is an argument that would be the best option. It is possible they slide even farther next year, but it is also possible they are the #1 overall pick if they show up in tremedous shape.
    What is the risk really? They may lose some 1st contract money, but if they end up on a better team, they have a much better shot at a top of the market 2nd deal. Maybe the team just gives them what they are asking for, maybe they trade them to someone who is willing to, but the real threat of getting nothing for a top 10 draft pick is enough leverage to force the hand of a tight fisted owner to sign that check and ink that deal ( not contract).
    A rookie most likley is ony going to get one “contract” so they better get one they are going to be satisfied with in 3 or 4 years.
    There is no slotting system, just Big Pauli principle, F U, Pay Me! from the player side. Your signature or your brains, one or the other is going to be on the contract. From the owner side.
    The player is worth what his agent can get, up front.

  5. gameday says: Aug 22, 2009 11:43 AM

    Andre Smith is holding out for more cheeseburgers.

  6. SpartaChris says: Aug 22, 2009 12:02 PM

    @Harm-
    It doesn’t matter where they were projected prior to the draft or the reasons why they fell. The fact is they fell lower in the draft. This equates to less dollars than those drafted ahead of you.
    And holding out the entire season is just stupid at best. As a season long hold out, the players are now creating the impression of having a piss poor attitude, being selfish and being unwilling to compromise. Would you want to take the risk of using a first round draft pick on a guy who has a history of having a poor attitude and holding out for more than his spot told him he’s worth? And what happens in the future with this guy? Is he going to screw you again by holding out and disrupting your team over that second contract? Is that really a guy you want to work with?
    Plus they’ll be a year removed from football contact, making it even harder to get into football shape. They won’t be allowed to interview with teams or participate in the combine or hold private workouts unless they get permission from the teams holding their rights. And teams get to retain their rights up until draft day, meaning there’s a risk draft day will come and they won’t have a chance to talk to or work with anyone. This makes it even riskier for teams to use a first round draft selection on.
    As you can see, being a season long holdout
    You mentioned making it up on their second contract- Why couldn’t they do that now? Work out a deal, perform and exceed the expectations of the deal and then get an even better contract down the road? I hear the argument about, “This might be the only contract they get!” My answer- So what? It’s already worth more than they’d likely make working a lifetime anywhere else so who cares? If they’re worth the money for a new contract, they’ll get it. If not, they can serve on the practice squad making whatever the league minimum is. It’s still 6 figures, so it’s not like they’ll be pushed out on the streets.
    Anyway, I feel the Bengals are wrong in this case for not respecting the unofficial slotting system. You have your ceiling and you have your floor so come in somewhere in the middle. I understand they can offer anything they want
    However, Crabtree is at fault for trying to leapfrog the system. Sorry man, but you fell in the draft for a reason. It’s time to accept that the market didn’t feel you were worth top 5 dollars and take your top 10 dollars instead. Prove your worth and you’ll get it all back.
    Personally, I hope the 49′ers don’t cave and Crabtree holds out all season. Then I hope one of two things happen- Either the league has a rookie cap, or he falls deep in the draft- 3rd or 4th round. It would serve him right, and Karma’s a bitch.
    These holdouts further prove the NFL needs a rookie pay system. A short term deal capped at X amount of dollars would be more than fair and would avoid these issues.

  7. TylerDurden says: Aug 22, 2009 12:10 PM

    Al’s a genius.

  8. Rhode Kill says: Aug 22, 2009 12:24 PM

    I hate the current rookie system, where unproven guys are handed foolishly large signing bonuses when they havent’ taken a snap. And the slotting system is just as ridiculous. But until the NFL does something about it, teams and players need to go along with it. It’s pretty clear on this one. Bengals management is at fault for not “honoring” the slotting system with Andre Smith, and Crabtree and his handlers are at fault at the #10 spot. The system stinks, but it’s what’s there now and everyone else seems to be playing along. Crabtree’s agent and Bengals management need to figure it out.

  9. jersey73 says: Aug 22, 2009 12:33 PM

    Well, things went as planned.
    Back at the end of April, if anyone said to me that two first round picks would still be unsigned with two weeks till opening day…Crabtree and Smith would’ve been the two I guessed.

  10. Harm City Homer says: Aug 22, 2009 12:35 PM

    Sparta, the only thing we agree on is there should be a rookie salary slotting system of some sort.
    That there is not one right now, and Andre Smith has man boobs and the Bungles should have drafred Crabtree and traded Ochostinko.
    I would be willing to bet Crabtree does not fall past Al Davis if he can run a 40 in 4.4 seconds and post it on youtube.
    There is little chance he would fall out of the top half of the 1st round, but with Nicks and Britt rounding out the 1st round, there is no way he would get drafted lower than that.
    41 touchdowns is 41 touchdowns.
    I understand there is such a notion of a slotting system, but like the salary cap, it is a sham. They can pay them whatever they want, but they have the leverage not to.
    How does a football player make less than a baseball player? You would have to pay me to watch all 9 innings, yet I take days off work to go watch my football team practice in the summer heat. The TV money alone should generate more payroll than the NBA and MLB payrolls combined.
    I get the average guy hardly making ends meet does not want to hear about needing 5 more mil to put food on the table, but where is that money really going to go if not to the player? Back into the team, or back into the pocket of a Bungling owner/ GM/ head of scouting/ Mel Kiper Jr. insider subscriber.
    I would be going out to buy a jersey if the Ravens could somehow trade for Crabtree or Smith for a 1st round pick and bag of balls, and pay them whatever is market reasonable, since they are not likley to be picking in the top 10 anytime soon again anyway.

  11. Hap says: Aug 22, 2009 12:43 PM

    What is it with these douchbag receivers ? Go ahead, Crabby and end up like Brandon Marshall-LEFT AT HOME ! Can you say tradebait ? But, who would want him or you when they know you acted like this at your first job opportunity ?

  12. Harm City Homer says: Aug 22, 2009 1:09 PM

    It is just like the Brett Favre thing.
    The players have so few rights, the only thing they can do is what they do, and they are called names for doing it, but it works.
    Once they sign the deal they are stuck to it, an dlook back at any draft and try to convince me the players were taken in any thing close to the right current value to the teams. The ones that were not worth it, were quickly cut or benched, but so many that turned out to be a lot better than where they were drafted, like Marshall, like Boldin, do not have much leverage, or even much of a hold out/ fake retirement option because of the way the rules are set up, if you are going to hold out for more money, your best bet is to do it before you ever sign a “contract” that can then be fined, suspended or torn up when ever for almost whatever, like Javon Walker’s knee.
    Al Davis is one of the only owners that is willing to throw money at players to try to win. He does not really know what he is doing, but the fact that he is doing it is all the proof the agents need to say F U pay me, I do not care what the team in this slot last year paid for a bust.
    It is a bad system all the way around, but if you are going to get fed up with this part of it, maybe you should look closer at why it is the way it is, and holding out or demanding a trade works if you have enough leverage, costs you a lot of money and fame if not.
    I think Brett is right though, it is his legacy and his body he is putting on the line. Why should he be forced to do anything or play for the team that drafted him. Smith asked to play in the NFL not to be a bungle, at RT for less money than the 7th pick. Crabtree does not have to sign. SF does not have to offer more money. No one is really being forced to do anything here, but there is a lot of force being applied from the outside, but the money part of the buis is still personal even though for some stupid reason it is public info as if there were elected officials or soemthing.
    I do not really care how much they make, but if someone else is willing to pay them and the team that hold the rights does not, the commish or some neutral 3rd party should be able to put deals together and settle disputes without using the media and fan support as leverage,

  13. SpartaChris says: Aug 22, 2009 1:27 PM

    @Harm-
    Truth is we honestly have no idea what would happen come draft day. It’s all speculation at this point. My feeling is he would slide to a later round. He would be what, 1.5 – 2 years removed from football at that point? Plus I feel his attitude makes him radioactive to any perspective team.
    You raise an interesting point about him possibly showcasing his workouts on youtube for potential scouts. I wonder if this would or could be considered a violation of the teams rights to retain him? On one hand, if it’s not expressly prohibited it might be a legal loophole. On the other, it could be seen as an attempt to circumvent the teams rights (Which is exactly what it is), which could lead to tampering claims for anyone participating in or viewing the workouts.
    My thinking is, at this point he’s considered a property of the 49′ers and any attempt or effort to circumvent their rights could lead to disciplinary action by the league. Again, it’s just mere speculation on my part.
    Besides, 44 touchdowns in college 1.5 – 2 years ago is 44 touchdowns in college 1.5 – 2 years ago. It’s not the same as 44 touchdowns in the NFL. And from what I understand, skill positions like wide receiver are the hardest to learn. To think he’d be able to make an instant impact on someone’s team right out of the gate I believe is a stretch.
    While it’s possible he doesn’t fall out of the first round, I still think he would be a risky draft choice that high for any team simply because of his attitude. If he falls to the middle or even bottom of the first round, what’s to say he doesn’t hold out again for top 5 money? I mean, he’d already have a history of holding out for an entire season at that point, so what’s to say he wouldn’t do it again?
    His attitude was a big part of the reason why he fell to 10 in the draft. Assuming for a moment that he’s not allowed to post workouts to youtube, unless someone wants to take the gamble at picking him in the top ten again, I believe his attitude will ultimately prevent teams from giving him a hard look in the first round.

  14. SpartaChris says: Aug 22, 2009 1:39 PM

    @Harm-
    You said:
    “I do not really care how much they make, but if someone else is willing to pay them and the team that hold the rights does not, the commish or some neutral 3rd party should be able to put deals together and settle disputes without using the media and fan support as leverage”
    I hope you don’t mean to imply that a third party should be able force a deal to happen if another team is willing to pay more. In fact, I don’t agree with the notion that a party outside the team, the player and his agent should be allowed to deal that player’s rights. If that were to happen, you’d have everyone lining up to play for the handful of teams that constantly outspend other teams, defeating the purpose of the draft.

  15. tv says: Aug 22, 2009 2:11 PM

    Interesting – a diva and a pile of flab!

  16. silver2929 says: Aug 22, 2009 7:26 PM

    well i think thats a wrap

  17. Iceberg34 says: Aug 22, 2009 9:36 PM

    It’s hilarious the raiders caused all this.
    I don’t blame Cinci and San Fran for not wanting to match the Raiders stupidity. I don’t think it would be worthwhile for either player to hold out, particularly Crabtree. There were concerns about his attitude anyway. I can’t see anyone taking him top 5 next season–there are a lot of good players coming out.

  18. as big as a hat says: Aug 22, 2009 11:08 PM

    The Raiders didn’t cause all or any of this. They picked their guy and paid him what they wanted to pay. The Niners don’t feel compelled to give in to Crabtree’s demands because they don’t have squat at the QB position and realize that Crabtree won’t make their collection of stiffs look any better even if he was one of the rare ones that can make a difference early. And the Bengals are the Bengals. These are two teams that will be fortunate to finish third in division, and they know it.
    Comment submission error.

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