As the storm of dust continues to settle regarding the decision of Michael Crabtree to show up unannounced in San Fran to work out a new deal, a source with knowledge of the situation believes that the wideout’s holdout ended suddenly not because Crabtree was ready to play football but because of the pending tampering case that the 49ers have filed against the Jets.
The source firmly believes that the investigation was beginning to uncover evidence that the Jets had indeed tampered with Crabtree through his agent, Eugene Parker. Indeed, it was Parker and G.M. Mike Tannenbaum who once worked together on an offer sheet that the Patriots would not be able to match when the Jets lured running back Curtis Martin from New England to New York. Per the source, Parker and Tannenbaum continue to have a close and productive working relationship
Moreover, 49ers owner Jed York recently told KNBR in San Francisco (via ESPN.com) that “it was clear there was some evidence that the Jets talked to [Crabtree],” which in and of itself would be proof of tampering.
The thinking is that, as Tannenbaum (and possibly Deion Sanders) began to feel the heat increasing, Tannenbaum (and possibly Deion Sanders) urged Parker to get a deal done.
Though we’ve been told repeatedly that the 49ers still intend to press the matter (after all, the league made an example out of the Niners for talking to agent Drew Rosenhaus about a long-term contract for linebacker Lance Briggs at a time when the Bears were talking to the Niners about a trade for Briggs), the source predicts that the league office will now nudge the 49ers to let it go.
The argument, the source believes, will be that it’s in the best interests of the league for the tampering allegation to go away, since a finding of such dirty deeds accomplished relatively inexpensively hurts the image of the entire league. The fact that this is all happening only a few weeks after the Jets were busted for cheating on the injury report makes an exoneration of the Jets this time around even more important.
So the real question is whether that effort to talk the 49ers into simply being happy that they got their player signed already has begun, and whether such efforts will be successful. In this regard, it’s interesting that York already has used the phrase “there was evidence,” since this implies that the case either is or will soon be formally closed.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment via e-mail on Saturday regarding whether the tampering case is still pending.
Regardless of the precise reason, the evidence suggests that the Crabtree deal was done very quickly, with less attention to detail. Last night, we pointed out several aspects of the contract indicating that it possibly was a rush job.
Even if the deal got done because Crabtree decided he was ready to play football, Parker surely would have urged Crabtree to give Parker enough time to ensure that the written document contains all the necessary bells and whistles. That fact that some deficiencies appear in the contract seems to bolster the belief that there was a separate motivation to get Crabtree under contract ASAFP, and that it possibly was related more to killing the tampering case than to getting Crabtree on a football field.