Fortunately, it’s rare that I have to sit down and type a story that starts with, “I blew it.” In reporting that the Cardinals had signed receiver Michael Crabtree, I blew it.
The Cardinals did not, and have not, actually signed Crabtree. However, the information I received last night coupled with the broader circumstances of Crabtree’s courtship indicate that a deal was in place, but that it fell apart before it could be finalized.
As explained to me on Monday evening, Crabtree, former Akron receiver Kwad Smith, and at least one other receiver had worked out for the Cardinals in what some league insiders describe as a “Gong Show” tryout. The team sees what the players can do, and the team then picks one of them. In the vast majority of these situations, the winner gladly accepts the check for $516.32.
In this case, Crabtree won. As Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported, the Cardinals offered Crabtree a contract. At some point between offer and execution, however, the deal fell apart.
That’s a subtle but significant distinction from the report published by Ian Rapoport of the NFL. Rapoport says the Cardinals have “no plans to sign him,” and that it was simply “due diligence.”
But it was much more than due diligence; the Cardinals had plans to sign him. They wanted to sign him. And they presumably assumed that his participation in a Gong Show tryout indicated a willingness to accept whatever terms would be offered by the Cardinals, given that his name hadn’t emerged in months as a potential free-agent acquisition by any NFL team.
Crabtree apparently decided he wanted more than whatever the Cardinals offered, a sentiment that likely was conveyed to the Cardinals after Crabtree and his agent indicated that whatever the Cardinals offered would be good enough.
It still may be good enough, especially if the sudden dusting off of Crabtree’s name doesn’t prompt another team to decide: (1) to pursue Crabtree; and (2) to offer him whatever the Cardinals wouldn’t. There’s also a chance that the Cardinals are posturing with their “no plans to sign him” and “due diligence”-only leak to a media outlet partially owned by the Cardinals, and that maybe they’ll blink if former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury decides that he wants the former Texas Tech receiver badly enough on Kingsbury’s first NFL team.
So, yes, I got over my skis on this one. And I’m sorry about that. But there’s still a chance for a landing somewhat smoother than the one included in the opening of every installment of Wide World of Sports.