Though the hard numbers have not yet been made available for full inspection and scrutiny, multiple sources have indicated that the contract signed by receiver Michael Crabtree with the 49ers does not violate the unwritten rules of the slotting process.
The biggest new wrinkle, which wasn’t part of the 49ers’ original offer, comes from the sixth year at a base salary of only $4 million.
Said one source: “Can you imagine what the franchise tag will be for wide receivers five years from now?” (As of 2009, it’s already close to kissing $10 million.)
As Jay Glazer of FOX initially reported, the sixth year voids if Crabtree reaches certain performance triggers. But, by all accounts, Crabtree will need to perform like the next Larry Fitzgerald to knock the contract from six years to five.
We initially thought that the sixth year was added at only $4 million to help keep the annual average within the range dictated by the tenth overall slot. We’re told, however, that even without the sixth year, the five-year average is less than the five-year average of the deal signed by the ninth overall selection, defensive lineman B.J. Raji.
And it’s definitely well below the annual average given to Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the man whose contract agent Eugene Parker was intent on matching.
So, basically, if Crabtree plays well enough to wipe out the sixth year, he won’t be nearly as happy about that as the 49ers will be.