The Oakland Raiders have signed wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who played the first six years of his career with the San Francisco 49ers. The free agent gets a one-year contract worth $3 million, though he could make another $2 million in incentives.
Oakland began the offseason with more money to spend than most NFL teams, but they hadn’t used much of it to bolster their offense. The Raiders’ biggest signings have included offensive guard Rodney Hudson, linebacker Malcolm Smith, defensive tackle Dan Williams and safety Nate Allen. The team did acquire running backs Trent Richardson and Roy Helu, but they combined to rush for just 735 yards last season.
After finishing last in total offense for the 2014 season, the Raiders are in need of multiple playmakers. Andre Holmes led the Raiders with just 693 receiving yards, and they haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005.
Crabtree is not expected to break that streak in 2015, but he’s better than anyone on Oakland's current roster. In 16 games last season, he caught 68 passes for 698 yards and four touchdowns. Despite playing on a team that had a 1,000-yard receiver, Crabtree still had more yards than any Oakland player a year ago.
The former first-round pick has had what many would likely describe as a disappointing career. Having been drafted No.10 overall in 2009, he was expected to become a Pro Bowl receiver. His best season came in 2012 when he set career-highs with 85 catches and 1,105 yards. Crabtree hasn’t surpassed 874 yards in any other season.
The move is low-risk, considering the length of the contract. The Raiders aren’t paying Crabtree like a No.1 receiver, and he has a chance to improve upon his numbers from last year. Crabtree has been banged up over the last few years, missing 11 games in 2013 with an Achilles injury and dealing with foot injuries throughout 2014.
A change of scenery could re-energize Crabtree. The 27-year-old appeared to be unhappy with his role on the 49ers last year, calling himself a “third-down receiver.”
Quarterback Derek Carr still needs more weapons in his second NFL season, but having Crabtree gives him a solid option. The Raiders have the No.4 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and they could add a potential No.1 receiver in Alabama’s Amari Cooper or West Virginia’s Kevin White.
Signing Crabtree could allow Oakland to select defensive tackle Leonard Williams, whom they are reportedly very interested in drafting. Many experts may claim that Crabtree isn’t anything more than a No.2 receiver on a good team, but the Raiders still have defensive concerns that need to be addressed. No team allowed more points than the Raiders in 2014.
Williams was a First-Team All-American in each of his final two seasons at USC. Missouri defensive end Shane Ray could be another consideration for the Raiders.