Contract Forecast: Michael Crabtree
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Contract Forecast: Michael Crabtree

The San Francisco 49ers raised plenty of eyebrows when the used their first round selection (#10 overall) in the 2009 draft on WR Michael Crabtree. While thelater the former Texas Tech wideout hasn't shown "elite" production, a steady dose of both maturity and statistical production has come in each of his first five seasons.

Combine this with a clear chemistry between he and potential franchise quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and Crabtree's value to the organization, and overall in the league has slowly improved each league week. His return to the lineup from a major injury in 2013 made an immediate impact to the 49ers passing game, as he quickly became the goto target in what has been an on and off offense throughout the season thus far.

It should be noted that it's unlikely the 49ers will look to extend Crabtree this offseason, especially coming off the preseason torn achilles. They've also been reluctant to place long-term contracts into the hands of wide receivers in recent years, so it's no guarantee Crabtree is welcomed back in 2015.

Regardless of the team, we'll run Michael Crabtree through our contract forecast formula, placing him up against 4 variable wide receivers of similar age and statistics, comparing his production against each to provide a projected look at what his next contract might result in.

Comparable Wide Receivers
To determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
Player Length Value Avg. Salary Age When Signed
Victor Cruz 6 $45,879,000 $7,646,500 26
Mike Wallace 5 $60,000,000 $12,000,000 26
DeSean Jackson 5 $48,500,000 $9,700,000 26
Pierre Garcon 5 $42,500,000 $8,500,000 26
Averages 5.25 $49,219,750 $9,461,625 26

Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.

View the list of Top Average Paid Wide Receivers in the NFL

Crabtree doesn't turn 27 until next September. Assuming he'll be under contract prior to this, we'll use age 26 as our target for this forecast. Since all of our variable receivers signed their deals at age 26, no adjustments are needed to account for the age factor in this case. Once a linear regression is performed on these numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:

Length Value Avg. Salary (slope)
5 $46,408,739 $9,281,748
Statistical Analysis, Prime Percentage
Now let's analyze these players statistically in the two years prior to signing their respective contracts by comparing Targets/Year, Receptions/Game, Receiving Yards/Game, Receiving Yards/Year, and Receiving TD/Year . The results will provide is with an indication of his "prime" value prior to signing a potential extension.
Player Targets YAC Rec/G Rec YDS/G Rec YDS/YR Rec TD/YR
Victor Cruz (2011-12 NYG) 129 332 5.28 82.41 1318.5 9.5
Mike Wallace (2011-12, PIT) 114.5 276 4.39 65.45 1014.5 8
DeSean Jackson (2010-11, PHI) 93.5 247 3.62 69.55 1008.5 5
Pierre Garcon (2010-11, IND) 102.5 325 4.57 57.7 865.5 6
Averages 109.88 295 4.47 68.78 1,051.75 7.13
Michael Crabtree (2012-13** ,SF) 107 536 4.55 62.95 1006.9 5
Difference -2.62% 81.69% 1.90% -8.47% -4.26% -29.82%
Median Prime %: -3.44%
**It should be noted that we've done the work to project Michael Crabtree's 2013 statistics as if he would have played in the full 16 regular season games (missed 11 due to a preseason torn achilles). Even with this adjustment, Crabtree falls short in nearly every major statistical receiver category when up against these variables.

It can be argued that his yards and touchdowns suffer from an offense that leans more toward the run, especially in the redzone. This argument is bolstered by Top 5 Yards after the Catch numbers from Crabtree in 2012.

The result is a Prime Percentage of -3.44%; a number we'll factor into our overall regression figures below.
Guaranteed Money
To generate a fair percentage of guaranteed money drawn from Crabtree's new deal, we'll run a linear regression of their guaranteed percentages.
Player Value True Guarantees % Guaranteed
Victor Cruz $45,879,000 $15,629,000 34.07%
DeSean Jackson $48,500,000 $15,000,000 30.93%
Mike Wallace $60,000,000 $17,800,000 29.67%
Pierre Garcon $42,500,000 $13,100,000 30.82%
Average 31.37%
Adjusted w/ Prime Percentage 30.3%
Results
Length of the Contract
The mathematical average of the five contracts used as variables is 5.25 years. Many believe Cruz was awarded a 6th year to balance out what appeared to be a generous "hometown discount" in terms of annual average salary. We'll assume neither of this regarding Crabtree, and keep our forecasted length down to 5 years.

Value of the Contract
Crabtree was riding good if not great momentum into the 2013 season before the preseason achilles tear. His immediate impact to the offense upon returning this season combined with increased production (and the ability to handle and produce as the WR1 in San Francisco) in 2014 should lead him down the path to long-term deal.

At this point of the game it doesn't appear Crabtree is in the market to break anyone's bank with his a new contract. Some may speculate that his first round potential has yet to unfold, and that Crabtree should be paid on what he's expected to become, rather than what he's done thus far (i.e. Jay Cutler in Chicago). We'll stick to the math here in terms of our forecast. When factoring in a -3.44% prime to the original base numbers we're given the following contract prediction:
Spotrac's Prediction: 5 years, $44,812,278
  •  Average Annual Salary: $8,962,456
  •  Guaranteed Money: $13,600,000

Concluding Notes

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