After signing a “prove-it” deal with the Oakland Raiders this offseason, it appears Michael Crabtree is already staking his claim as a primary target for second-year quarterback Derek Carr.
Head coach Jack Del Rio spoke in glowing terms about the former San Francisco 49ers receiver after the first day of training camp.
“He stood out today, made some nice catches,” Del Rio said, via the Contra Costa Times. “Mike’s a proven player. I don’t think we have to worry much about Mike.”
For those not familiar with defensive-minded coach speak, Del Rio just gave Crabtree extremely high praise. And this praise comes on the heels of other reports that have noted the receiver’s chemistry with Carr as the two of them spend more and more time together.
“Whatever the route is, for some reason, it’s just easy to throw to him and that’s a credit to his route-running abilities,” Carr said, per CSN Bay Area. “That’s a credit to the extra work that he puts in in the offseason. I mean, that guy works his tail off now. You can tell when he gets out here, because he makes it look so easy.”
Oakland signed Crabtree to a one-year deal this spring worth $3.2 million, with just $1.3 million fully guaranteed—a paltry sum for the former first-round pick who was rumored to be seeking upwards of $9-10 million before realizing the market for his services had crashed.
Crabtree’s 2014 season can only be described as disastrous. In a contract year, he regressed, catching just 68 passes for 698 yards and four touchdowns. And, while the entire 49ers offense took a turn for the worst, Crabtree didn’t help himself at all, dropping 10-of-78 catchable passes, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
With this in mind it isn’t surprising to find out the receiver has been working his tail off this offseason and has shown up to camp in phenomenal shape.
If Crabtree can rebound from a dismal 2014 campaign to regain the form that scouts drooled about when he came out of Texas Tech, then Oakland will be in fine shape offensively. Paired with rookie Amari Cooper, who has impressed in his own right this summer, and rookie tight end Clive Walford, Carr now has some weapons to work with in the passing game.
While there is still so much that can happen between now and the start of the season, it appears Crabtree will be a boon for the Raiders. And, if things go according to plan for the receiver, then he’ll be signing a more lucrative contract next season to make up for money lost this time around.
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