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Thursday, August 27, 2009
Oakland plays role in remaining rookie talks

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

There are two remaining unsigned first-round draft picks in the NFL.

And the Oakland Raiders are in the middle of both negotiations.

Unsigned are tackle Andre Smith of Cincinnati and receiver Michael Crabtree of San Francisco. Smith was the No. 6 overall pick and Crabtree was the No.10 pick. Both players are balking at signing contracts because of what happened at No.7.

Oakland took receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the choice. He was given a contract worth $23 million in guaranteed money. Oakland's choice of Heyward-Bey was considered a major surprise. He was considered to be a late first-round talent.

Smith wants more money that Heyward-Bey because he was taken a spot higher. The Bengals are hesitant to pay Smith that much. Crabtree wants Heyward-Bey-type money because he feels like he was the best receiver available in the draft. The 49ers want to pay Crabtree somewhere between what the No. 9 and No. 11 players were paid to stay within the daft slotting system.

But the talks in Cincinnati and San Francisco keeping going back to what Oakland did with Heyward-Bey.

Does it matter to the Raiders? No. They don't care. Nor should they. They got their guy and they paid him what they wanted to pay him. But the results are shaping the final rookie negotiations in the league.