Something happened on the way to Phoenix for receiver Michael Crabtree. More specifically, something didn’t happen.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Cardinals and Crabtree had no communications about potential contract terms before Crabtree went to Arizona to work out. Crabtree was excited for the opportunity, and he assumed that any offer would be in a ballpark that reflects his level of skill and experience.
When Crabtree emerged as the winner of a three-man contest that included former Akron receiver Kwad Smith and (we’re told) former Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams, the Cardinals expressed a desire to sign Crabtree. Crabtree expressed a desire to sign with the team. But then came the financial offer, and Crabtree was taken aback.
The Cardinals offered a base deal of $2.5 million, with another $2 million in incentives. Crabtree envisioned something in line with Randall Cobb‘s one-year, $5 million deal in Dallas or Danny Amendola‘s one-year, $4.25 million deal in Detroit — especially since they had 383 and 575 receiving yards, respectively, in 2018.
In his only season with Baltimore, Crabtree caught 54 passes for 607 yards in an offense that veered sharply from the pass after the Week 10 bye. In nine games started by former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, Crabtree averaged 52.4 receiving yards per game. In the seven games started by quarterback Lamar Jackson, Crabtree averaged only 19.2 yards per game.
The Cobb and Amendola deals came earlier in the offseason, when more money is typically available. The Cardinals apparently believed that Crabtree would welcome their offer, given that he currently doesn’t have another team that is aggressively pursuing him. Still, Crabtree decided that, even though he was excited about joining forces with Kliff Kingsbury, a base deal of $2.5 million wasn’t good enough.
If the deal sweetens, Crabtree may change his mind. Unless, of course, someone else realizes that Crabtree could be a key component to an offense that will use him more like the Ravens did in the first nine games of the 2018 season and less like they did in the final seven.