ALAMEDA (AP) — Five weeks after saying it was too early to discuss his contract situation, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree finally has the big-money deal he had been hoping for.
Crabtree got a four-year extension with the Raiders this week that keeps the 28-year-old in the fold through 2019. The deal, according to NFL Network, is worth $35 million and includes nearly $19 million in guarantees.
That’s a far cry from what Crabtree went through as a free agent when he drew tepid interest before settling for a one-year, incentive-laden contract with Oakland in April.
“It’s always nice to get it done, that way we can just go play football,” Crabtree said Thursday. “You ain’t worried about where you’re going to be next year and all that stuff. It’s pretty neat that you know you’re wanted and you want to be on the team and you’re here.”
That the Raiders wanted to get a deal done with Crabtree before the offseason wasn’t surprising. The veteran wide receiver leads Oakland in catches (66) and receiving touchdowns (7), and is on pace for just the second 1,000-yard season of his career.
Equally as important as his production on the field has been Crabtree’s impact inside the Raiders locker room.
Teammates have repeatedly praised Crabtree’s leadership and his influence on some of the team’s younger players, specifically first-round draft pick Amari Cooper.
That’s also in stark contrast to what Crabtree’s reputation was before he signed his original deal with the Raiders.
“Over the years there’s been some talk and rumblings about him not being a good teammate and things like that,” Oakland safety Charles Woodson said. “You try not to pre-judge people. I know how it was when I left here and went to Green Bay. I was pre-judged by a lot of people. He’s a great teammate.”
Crabtree’s signing, Woodson noted, is an indication that players from around the league are looking at the Raiders differently than in years past when the team struggled to sign quality free agents.
Despite losing four of its last five games, Oakland is 5-7 with a slim chance of finishing the season with a winning record for the first time since 2002.
“It’s great because you hear that people don’t want to come to Oakland, don’t want to play in Oakland,” Woodson said. “But I think things are starting to change. With Crabtree signing his deal, I think other free agents will take notice once free agency comes back around. They’ll want to know why — why do you want to stay around here?”
The Crabtree signing completed a busy week for the Raiders, who on Monday signed fullback Jamize Olawale to a three-year extension.
Crabtree’s extension, which makes him the second-highest paid player on the roster behind center Rodney Hudson, also ensures that the core of Oakland’s offense will stay intact.
Derek Carr has passed for more than 3,100 yards in each of his first two seasons and is the fifth-rated quarterback in the AFC while Cooper leads all rookies in receptions and receiving yardage. Running back Latavius Murray also leads the AFC with 851 yards.
“We’re building,” Crabtree said. “We’ve got some good guys in the locker room, offense and defensive-wise. We’ve got a good receiving corps right now and I feel like we can build on (it). We’re just growing and I’m happy to be here taking on whatever role they need me to take on.
“I’ve seen it, man. I’ve been to playoffs and Super Bowls. Last thing on my list is to win a Super Bowl. Whatever we need to do to get there, we’re going to do it.”
Notes: Hudson (ankle) practiced for the first time in nearly two weeks and took reps with the first-term offense. Barring a setback, he’s expected to start. . Woodson (shoulder), DE Khalil Mack (knee) and RB Taiwan Jones (knee) all practiced after sitting out Wednesday.