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.
|Player||Length||Value||Avg. Salary||Age When Signed|
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)|
|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|
|Michael Crabtree (2012-13** ,SF)||107||536||4.55||62.95||1006.9||5|
|Median Prime %:||-3.44%|
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.
|Player||Value||True Guarantees||% Guaranteed|
|Adjusted w/ Prime Percentage||30.3%|
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:
• Guaranteed Money: $13,600,000
- At $8.96M, Crabtree would be the 11th highest average paid receiver in football.
- His $44.8M contract would be the 13th largest among active receivers.
- The 49ers have $116.8M allocated to their 2014 salary cap, which is projected to be $126.3M for all teams.
- Anquan Boldin, Kassim Osgood, and Mario Manningham are all 49ers WR heading to free agency this offseason.
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