The Raiders might be without Tyrell Williams who is questionable with a foot injury. They really can’t afford to lose their best receiver since JJ Nelson is still hurt and Antonio Brown ain’t walking through that door. The Raiders would do well to find a veteran who can fill in for Williams as well as play beside him when he returns. Who is the perfect fit you ask? Michael Crabtree should return and help out the Raiders offense. Crabtree got released after a month with the Cardinals but he could help the Raiders out ASAP this season.
Oakland is just outside the top-20 for total offensive yards per game and 26th in passing yards per game. A second receiver outside of Williams and TE Darren Waller would definitely improve this.
Tyrell Williams is ranked No. 36 in catches and 42nd in yards among receivers. That’s not all his fault given the team’s preference for the run and short pass. He is in a seven way tie for touchdowns with four. Williams did drop passes last week too. Still, Williams ranks as the seventh based receiver in Football Outsiders defensive-adjusted value per play. The Raiders next receiver, Hunter Renfrow is all the way down at towards the end of the list.
Why not add a veteran player like Crabtree?
Crabtree would allow the Raiders to pick their spots for Nelson and Renfrow in the slot and gadget opportunities. He would help Williams by shouldering some of the underneath work Derek Carr loves so much. That leaves Waller and Williams to do what they do best stretching the field.
Plus, Crabtree was one of Carr’s favorite receivers with more than 8 touchdowns in each of his three seasons in Oakland. Crab also topped 1,000 receiving yards one year and almost did it the year before. He knows Carr’s style, which is more than any other free agent receiver can say.
Sure, Crabtree took steps back barely getting over 600 receiving yards his last year with the Raiders and in 2018 with the Ravens. Of course, those teams had their own issues. Crabtree did look good enough for the Cardinals to give him a contract with some guarantees. He can also help mentor Renfrow, Marcell Ateman and Keelan Doss.
Don’t forget Crabtree is a good blocker outside and he played on a run team that willed their way to the playoffs in Baltimore last year.
Of course, you can’t talk about Crabtree coming back without talking about why he left. Crabtree was the first player to have issues with Jon Gruden. Before Khalil Mack or Amari Cooper, it was Crabtree who heard the Gruden fan fare before receiving his walking papers.
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That paled in comparison to anything Antonio Brown did and Gruden enabled. Plus, it worked out for Crabtree. Maybe that is enough to put the bad blood behind them?
Besides, money talks and it is the last season in Oakland. The Raiders have over $20 million in cap space remaining. There is no reason they can’t give Crabtree the rest of the money he would’ve got in Arizona plus a few extra incentives.
Otherwise, you look at the rest of the receiver field which is even less thrilling than Crabtree. Veterans like Dez Bryant, Pierre Garcon and Mike Wallace have even less productivity the past few seasons mostly due to injury.
Jordan Matthews and Kelvin Benjamin been cut too many times recently for my liking. The Raiders don’t need anymore projects like Kevin White or Braxton Miller either.
Thus, Crabtree is really the only logical fit. Even if he only gives you 600 receiving yards, that probably easily makes him the second or third best receiving option.
Oakland could also dip into the trade block to find some receiving help. However, the Raiders aren’t dishing out picks for anyone good after they essentially gave the Steelers picks in consecutive seasons for Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown. Both were major offseason busts for off-field reasons but cost the Raiders draft capital they could use in a trade.
I’d love to trade Stefan Diggs but the price is probably too high until the Vikings officially give up on the season. Emmanuel Sanders could also fit but it is unlikely the Broncos help the Raiders out. Julio Jones is a pipe dream and Larry Fitzgerald is never leaving Arizona.
Paul Richardson makes sense if the Redskins keep losing Jon should call his younger brother for a trade. DeVante Parker has long been available too but the Dolphins are the Dolphins so they will probably waste. Marquis Lee in Jacksonville is also kind of buried so I’m sure he could be had. Those guys make sense if the price and role is right.
Nonetheless, you don’t have to give up picks to get Crabtree. You also don’t need to wait for him to adapt to your QB or learn a new city. Just Sign Crab Baby!