NFC West: Eugene Parker

Former NFL executive Andrew Brandt of ESPN and National Football Post takes a detailed look at Larry Fitzgerald's new contract with the Arizona Cardinals.

Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald
Lots of good details in there for those who like poring over the numbers.

Fitzgerald gets $20 million in 2011 instead of the $7 million he was scheduled to earn under his old contract. The team must exercise a $15 million option bonus in March 2012 to keep Fitzgerald from hitting the market. Fitzgerald will have received $40.25 million over two years. That works out to a $16.5 million average for new money over a two-year period on a deal that, according to Brandt, maintains a $15 million average overall.

Teams often show more concern for cash flow than cap implications in the short term. That was the case here, according to Brandt: "The Cardinals resisted but eventually gave Fitzgerald what he wanted. [Agent Eugene] Parker and Fitzgerald worked with [team president] Michael Bidwill on the cash flow issue, not requiring the major upfront cash payments that some contracts have required. And ... they allowed the Cardinals the ability to not have to fund the guarantees at the outset."

Brandt takes care to outline the broader context for the Fitzgerald deal, indirectly related to a discussion we had on the NFC West blog in 2010.

Earlier: Eleven thoughts on No. 11.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says this isn't the first offseason we've heard about progress Alex Smith has made as the 49ers' quarterback. Maiocco: "But this offseason is different. This is the first time Smith knows the offense well enough to lead meetings, understand all the nuances of the team's protection schemes and fully appreciate the route concepts. He has an understanding on what plays -- coupled with the looks from the defense -- he has the best chances to take risks with shots down the field."

Also from Maiocco: notes from 49ers camp, where Manny Lawson remains absent.

Kevin Smith of Niner Insider says Smith appears more comfortable.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Tony Wragge is working at center with the 49ers' second-team offensive line. Also: "With Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer absent, the starting cornerbacks continue to be Karl Paymah and (Tarell) Brown. Their backups today were (Phillip) Adams and Keith Smith. Newcomer Will James is still picking up the defense and was an observer only for today's session."

Also from Barrows: Veteran 49ers safety Michael Lewis says cornerback Nate Clements might surprise people when he reports to the team after an offseason of conditioning work in Arizona.

More from Barrows: Half the 49ers' defensive starters were not in attendance Monday. I don't necessarily think this is a bad thing for the team. More in a bit.

Cam Inman of Bay Area News Group says Tedd Ginn Jr. had problems with dropped balls in practice Monday. Inman: "He didn't have as many drops on punt returns as he did as a receiver Monday. He cleanly fielded his first few punts and darted upfield about 30 yards. But when he failed to catch one punt near his waist, it wasn't good -- other than it was only mid-May and he wasn't in Candlestick Park."

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat details why various players weren't present at 49ers camp. Mike Singletary: "Obviously as a coach, you always want to see the guys, but it's just like last year. There were some guys that were not here last year, and I told Nate and Shawntae, 'Hey, guys, you're men. You do what you have to do. You know what we are trying to get done here, and I trust that.' Some of the guys will not be here at all for the OTAs and some of the guys will get maybe half of them. ... They have to know what we are doing here, and when we get ready for training camp they have to know that the competition is going to be there, and I trust their decision making."

Also from Barber: Ginn was among those returning punts for the 49ers.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Vernon Davis appears unfazed entering the final year of his contract. Davis: "I’m here because this is what I do. I like to work."

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says rookie offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati lined up with the 49ers' second-team offensive line.



Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com offers notes from the team's latest OTA session, including one about Aaron Curry's improved confidence. Curry: "I'm having so much more fun this year rushing the passer than I did last year, because this year I had a whole two or three months of pass-rush preparation. So I actually have a plan when I go into the rush and I actually know what I’m doing."

Rod Mar of seahawks.com provides photos from the session, including one of receiver Mike Williams elevating over cornerback Kelly Jennings to make a one-handed grab. Williams' continued surprising play stands out as one of the more intriguing developments for Seattle this offseason.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Seahawks coach Pete Carroll likes what he sees from Red Bryant at defensive end. Carroll: "Of all the little things that we've looked at, trying to experiment and stuff, that's the one thing that looks to be really, really positive. We have a chance to find a lot of plays out of Red."

Also from O'Neil: Leroy Hill faces a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says rookie seventh-round choice Jeremy Konz has moved from receiver to tight end. That makes sense. Seattle has 16 wide receivers if Konz counts at that position. Johns: "Konz is an intriguing athlete who posted some incredible predraft workout numbers at Kent State, including a whopping 46-inch vertical leap and running the 40 in 4.41 seconds. But he spent his first three seasons at Kent State as a linebacker, then suffered a season-ending ankle injury one game into his senior season after being moved to wide receiver. He gained an extra year of eligibility and came back last year at more of an H-back position, catching 21 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune quotes Carroll as saying Charlie Whitehurst has "a sense" for the quarterback position, but Matt Hasselbeck clearly remains the starter.

Also from Williams: Could the Seahawks cut Hill?

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with veteran Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy, who is looking forward to an expanded role in the defense. Milloy: "If I didn’t have a fire for the game, I wouldn’t be doing this. I don’t have to be doing this. But I’ve got a passion for the competition and a passion for the game, and I feel I can still do it at a high level. You saw when I got on the field last year, I got after it; I wasn’t backing down from any hits." Milloy was arguably the Seahawks' best hitter last season.

Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle says Seahawks tight end John Carlson is used to change. Carlson: "This is my third year, third staff, third offense and third position coach. This is routine to me -- starting over. We have a lot of time to meet and work with each other on the field -- the transition isn't all that bad."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals running back Tim Hightower has switched agents, hiring Paul Lawrence of Maximum Sports. Somers: "That agency, which includes Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes, represents several of the Cardinals biggest stars: safety Adrian Wilson, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Lawrence is listed as the lead agent for Hightower and Wilson."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says tight end Ben Patrick can relate to what rookies are going through as they get acclimated to the Cardinals. Urban: "Patrick, one of the few veterans to show Monday, tried to do his part. He went outside as the rookies were about to run when rookie seventh-round pick Jim Dray -- also a tight end -- came over to ask Patrick if he was going to watch them work. Patrick told him he came out to run with Dray and show some support."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes a look at the Rams' inexperience at wide receiver. General manager Billy Devaney in December: "My brothers in New Jersey, they follow it, and they'd say, 'Aren't you going to sign a receiver?' And I'm like, 'Give me a break. We have this list (of needs) that's a mile long. We're going to fill as many as we can.' " Coats: "Two wideouts acquired through the draft have yet to appear in a regular-season game. (Mardy) Gilyard, of course, is a newcomer. Brooks Foster, a fifth-round pick in 2009, missed his entire rookie season after ankle surgery." The Rams can be OK at receiver if Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson are healthy. Keeping both players healthy will be a challenge, however. Both have had injury problems.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the Will Witherspoon trade from the Rams' and Eagles' perspectives. Also, the Rams assured running back Steven Jackson that they were never going to trade him. Thomas: "Sunday against Indianapolis, the Rams plan to start Paris Lenon at weakside linebacker in Witherspoon's place. Larry Grant will start at strongside linebacker. Next week, linebacker David Vobora returns from a four-game suspension for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams had "no choice" but to trade Witherspoon for a receiver. Burwell: "Because of injuries -- and a mind-boggling offseason failure to foresee that they hadn't fortified the roster adequately with more proven receiving talent -- the Rams' offense has found it a struggle to generate any consistency. The offense was restricted by a group of backups who have yet to prove that they can get open against even the most basic defensive coverage on a regular basis."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers' faith in Michael Crabtree says as much about their offense as it says about Crabtree. Barrows: "(Agent) Eugene Parker must be slapping his forehead and yelling 'Doh!' at the top of his lungs. When he and Crabtree finally came in from the cold, the 49ers were 3-1, were enjoying an avalanche of praise and had virtually all of the bargaining power. A week later, the 49ers suffer their worst defeat ever at Candlestick Park and immediately elevate Crabtree to the starting lineup. Parker's negotiating stance was built on the hunch that the 49ers were desperate for Crabtree. Turns out he was right, but he blinked one week too early." I don't think the 49ers would have caved under any circumstances. Staying away under the current situation would have made Crabtree less popular among fans.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News thinks Crabtree's sudden move into the lineup puts pressure on Shaun Hill and Jimmy Raye to get him the ball. I wondered during camp whether an offense featuring Crabtree and Brandon Jones might be better off with a stronger-armed quarterback such as, hmmm, let me think, Alex Smith. We never found out, although Smith didn't do enough during the exhibition season to justify serious consideration. Kawakami: "So only a few weeks after reporting, Crabtree is right in the thick of things, after zero training camp and no organized team work of any kind since the final game of his Texas Tech career. Clearly, coach Mike Singletary, Jed York and general manager Scot McCloughan believe Crabtree can be an instant difference-maker. But only if he has a quarterback who can get him the ball. And that’s on Hill, who has never had this kind of pressure before."

Monte Poole of Bay Area News Group says the 49ers haven't gotten their money's worth from Nate Clements. Poole makes good points about Clements' struggles against Terrell Owens and Roddy White. Clements has matched up favorably against Larry Fitzgerald, however. He is also a tremendous tackler, which contributes to the 49ers' soundness against the run. Seems to me Clements could become more consistent in his fundamentals. Sometimes he seems to suffer from lapses.

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle says Crabtree might need time to win over fans. Jerry Rice, Cliff Branch, Terrell Owens and Vernon Davis have been there before. Ratto: "The Bay Area has a history of harsh grading when it comes to wide receivers. Jerry Rice did a year in fan purgatory because of a string of early drops. Cliff Branch was in the Raiders fans' pooch hut for more than two years for the same reason, and came to like playing on the road more than at home because of that. And though he was loved early as the logical inheritor to Rice's throne, Terrell Owens left town as PE1 -- Public Enemy No. 1."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the 49ers' blowout loss before the bye week might have opened their eyes to a few realities.

John Morgan of Field Gulls breaks down the Seahawks' situation at left guard.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with Marcus Trufant, who practiced Tuesday for the first time all season. Trufant: "I want to play right now. I wish we had a game this week. But it’s one of those things. I'm working hard and I hope that I can play in Dallas. We're going to kind of see how things go."

Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune says Trufant felt the "mental grind" of a long rehab process.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers wants to be viewed as one of the guys. Bickley: "In the preseason, he recovered his onside kick against the Packers, emerged from the pile and spiked the ball with great fury. He drew a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. It was far more acceptable than the antics of Bill Gramatica, who blew out a knee celebrating a short field goal, becoming the poster boy for goofy kickers everywhere."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic breaks down Larry Fitzgerald's touchdown reception against Jordan Babineaux on a play the Cardinals had been waiting to run all season. Good context and background information here.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals would like Beanie Wells to take a deep breath and slow down. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "He's a young player and so geeked up. Normally, guys will take a drop step and then they'll go because it times up better with the quarterback. Beanie is getting there sometimes before the pull of the guard or he's getting there too tight for the quarterback."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com explains how charity work affects Matt Leinart and Karlos Dansby. Both shared thoughts on life outside football.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Paola Boivin of the Arizona Republic explains why Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is an NFL spokesman for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. His mother, Carol, died from the condition. Boivin: "When she discovered a lump in her breast when Larry was 13, the subsequent diagnosis of cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes was upsetting, but the family, thanks to Carol, was equipped to handle the tough conversations. ... Every discussion was frank. When she shared her options for treatment, they supported her decision against a mastectomy. ... She fought hard and for several of Larry's high school years, the family believed she had won the battle. The cancer came back with a vengeance. The family was crushed."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says Texans coach Gary Kubiak has high praise for Cardinals defensive lineman Darnell Dockett. Kubiak: "I tell you what, Dockett's the best player I've seen on film this year. You know as a coach, every year you start studying teams and preparing for teams and he's the best individual player I've seen. I mean, he's something for us to deal with coming this weekend."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who says he can catch a football despite a broken finger. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "He hasn't been able to catch, it didn't seem like, the first couple games anyway. I mean that in a positive way. Maybe this will help him."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says it's tough to evaluate an offensive line.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals and Texans are dealing with the weight of added expectations.

Jim Moore of seattlepi.com checks in with Seahawks defensive end Lawrence Jackson, whose courteous and thoughtful nature made for an interesting interview. Jackson: "I can't get mad if a coach is yelling at me. He's not yelling at Lawrence, he's yelling at No. 95."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu will match the first $10,000 donated to tsunami relief in American Samoa. Tatupu: "My dad was born in America Samoa and I still have family there. Every donation will help provide relief to those affected by the disaster."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' season is either half full or half empty. I think it's half empty pending the outcome of the next two games.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune explores links between Seahawks running back Justin Forsett and Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Williams: "The two forged a relationship when Forsett was a sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley. Jones-Drew's strength and conditioning coach in high school when he attended De La Salle High in the Bay Area, Mike Blasquez, is the head strength and conditioning coach for the athletics program at Cal, so the two running backs have worked out together for the past four years during the offseason at the East Bay college."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is looking forward to facing Falcons pass-rusher John Abraham. Staley: "He's been in the league for a long time and put up really big numbers. I really like going against guys that are considered the best pass-rushers in the league. It gives me a chance to showcase what I can do."

Also from Crumpacker: Newly signed receiver Michael Crabtree worked with the scout team in practice.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat fills in blanks on MC Hammer's role in the Crabtree saga. 49ers president Jed York: "We have a mutual friend who introduced us. Hammer has a good relationship with Deion Sanders. Eugene (Parker) was his agent. And he (Hammer) has a good relationship with Eugene. And I think it was a good conduit to get everybody together."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Crabtree's refusal to sign the 49ers' previous offer was an exercise in futility. Cohn: "Crabtree refused to say the holdout was worth it because it wasn't worth it. It was worthless and he lost face big time. He said he looks at the world in a different way. He sure does. He realizes he's not the center of the universe, just another player who has to prove himself in the NFL -- he hasn't even begun to do that."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams running back Steven Jackson is looking forward to wearing a Rams throwback jersey Sunday. If only Jackie Slater could block for him and Preston Dennard could line up at receiver.

Also from Coats: Nate Jones is the Rams' only healthy receiver.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and Vikings coach Brad Childress became good friends and confidants working together under Andy Reid in Philadelphia. Childress: "The thing that I know about Spags and that staff down there, and having been involved in a couple turnarounds, I know that he's going to do it the right way. He's got younger, hungry guys. I know he's going to be positive with 'em. And I think you have to be positive with 'em. He's got a tremendous, tremendous (defensive) scheme. You see him putting people in positions to make plays. All you've got to do is look at a little bit of that tape, and it'll get your attention in a hurry. Because what they're doing is extremely sound. It's just a matter of time before they get it right."

Around the NFC West: Rush to buy Rams?

October, 6, 2009
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Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts has joined radio personality Rush Limbaugh in making a bid to purchase the Rams. Thomas: "According to league sources, there are multiple bidders for the Rams as the potential sale of the team has advanced to a second stage — from looking for potential buyers to evaluating the merits of bidders. It is not known who the other bidders are." Limbaugh released this a statement to KMOX radio: "Dave and I are part of a bid to buy the Rams, and we are continuing the process. But I can say no more because of a confidentiality clause in our agreement with Goldman Sachs. We cannot and will not talk about our partners. But if we prevail we will be the operators of the team."

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marc Bulger did some throwing in an attempt to return to the Rams' lineup.

Also from Nelson: Look for Alex Barron to return to the starting lineup for the Rams at left tackle.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Michael Crabtree's camp hasn't scheduled a meeting with the team despite reports suggesting pending renewal of negotiations. "It's all speculation," general manager Scot McCloughan said. The initial report said Crabtree and his agent, Eugene Parker, were heading to the Bay Area to meet with the team, not that a meeting had been scheduled. Maiocco: "McCloughan said the club has learned that Parker is coming to the Bay Area through other parties, but nobody with the 49ers has spoken with Parker or Crabtree."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers would welcome Crabtree if the receiver did decide to sign with the team. Shaun Hill's next pass to Crabtree will be his first, the quarterback said.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers had little to say about news of Crabtree's potential arrival in the Bay Area.

Also from Crumpacker: A return to simplicity has served the 49ers well. Linebacker Takeo Spikes: "This is probably the most fun I've had since my Buffalo days," said linebacker Takeo Spikes, who was with the Bills from 2003 through '06. "There's so much love in this locker room. It's not an environment where you're walking on eggshells. When it's time to work, it's time to work. When it's time to play, go play. As long as you know where the line is between the two, there's no problem."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie welcomes quarterbacks to keep throwing his way. Probably best that he waited until after the Indianapolis game before making that statement. Not so good to say it before facing Andre Johnson, however. Rodgers-Cromartie: "I'm loving it. When they come at me, it makes me focus even more, and that's what I want. I want that challenge, because only two things can happen from it. Either I go into the doghouse or I can get better from it."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals aren't saying much about injuries because NFL rules require no formal updates until Wednesday. Rodgers-Cromartie does have a wrap on his hand, however.

More from Somers: The Cardinals are 0-2 under Ken Whisenhunt immediately following bye weeks.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals appeared "fresher" at practice following their bye, according to Whisenhunt. Also, Whisenhunt indicated Rodgers-Cromartie had fallen back into some bad habits.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Matt Hasselbeck's potential return this week could restore "swagger" to the Seattle offense, according to coach Jim Mora.

Matt Pitman of 710ESPN Seattle provides a link to audio from Mora's news conference Monday.

Dave Wyman of 710ESPN Seattle defends Seneca Wallace's performance against the Colts, noting that Wallace played well in the fourth quarter. Wyman: "I know what you're going to say. 'Yeah, but that was against the Colts' backups.' SENECA IS A BACKUP! His offensive line is beyond backup!"

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks re-signed fullback Justin Griffith, as expected.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says cornerback Josh Wilson is expected to be full strength for the Seahawks in Week 5.

Also from O'Neil: The Seahawks haven't had much success in early October recently.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Espe from Seattle writes: Hi, I was reading your blog and came across the seattlepi.com article calling for Justin Forsett and I really have to agree with it. Julius Jones has 27 carries for 128 yards, but those numbers are a little skewed thanks to the 62 yard run against the Rams. Without that run, he has 26 carries for 66 yards a very poor 2.53 yards per carry. He also isn't that much of a threat in the passing game, having five receptions for only 17 yards.

On the other hand, Justin Forsett has eight carries for 52 yards, six catchs for 57 yards and they use him a lot on third down because he is a very good in pass protection. People say he doesn't have the speed, but I dont think he needs the speed because he himself says he has great acceleration and with the blocking scheme, I think he is a more suited back than Julius Jones.

Mike Sando: Long runs do count and the Seahawks should know this better than most after watching Frank Gore bust 79- and 80-yard runs. Jones gets credit for that 62-yard run. Otherwise it's unfair to count Forsett's longer runs late in a game his team trailed by double digits. Jones is also very good in protection.

I think it's way too early to make a decision on the starting running back. Seattle has suffered quite a few changes up front. Jones hasn't had much of a chance to get going. It's also different carrying the ball on early downs in a close game. Forsett has never touched the ball with fewer than three wide receivers on the field. He has not run the ball in the base offense, in other words.

Six of Forsett's eight carries were on third down. He has touched the ball four times in the first halves of games. Forsett has shown enough, in my view, to start getting some carries earlier in games and as part of the base offense. But to suddenly install him as the starter would undermine Jones prematurely while rewarding a player who might not be ready or even suited for such an expanded role.

(Read full post)

'This guy hasn't done a thing in the NFL'

September, 19, 2009
9/19/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Michael Crabtree stands no chance in the court of public opinion.

It's a privilege to play in the NFL, the thinking goes, and draft choices should just take what teams are offering. When players refuse to sign, teams control the story lines through the media because their employees -- coaches, executives and sometimes players -- are the ones framing the subject publicly.

49ers radio analyst and former linebacker Gary Plummer did more than frame the subject during his recent conversation with Dave Mahler and Hugh Miller of KJR 950 in Seattle. He took on Crabtree the way he might have taken on an opposing guard in his playing days.

Plummer: The 49ers were shocked to see him fall to them at the No. 10 position. He wasn't even in their sights. They didn't think they would have a shot at him. So they have to take a little bit of the blame for being so enamored with his skills. But Michael Crabtree, Deion Sanders, their agent in Eugene Parker, the cousin of Michael Crabtree, they are all morons. They are all ridiculous idiots as far as I am concerned. You take 100 guys who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. This league was built on their backs. And yet, I guarantee, you take 100 Hall of Famers, add up the total amount of money they made in their entire career, it's not even close to what that signing bonus is that the 49ers are offering. This guy hasn't done a thing in the NFL. Dude, break a sweat first, prove yourself and then you are going to get big bucks. Right now, you have done nothing. Sign your contract, get into a 49er uniform, prove you deserve that money and the 49ers will take care of you on the next one.



Crabtree would have a better chance getting open against Eric Wright and Ronnie Lott in their primes than he would winning the public relations battle as an unsigned draft choice heading into Week 2. His image will continue to take a pounding until he signs.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


49ers president Jed York shared a few thoughts on the Michael Crabtree situation during his recent appearance on KNBR radio.

York alluded to the 2003-2004 stalemate between the Texans and Drew Henson, which ended with Houston trading the quarterback to Dallas nearly 11 months after drafting him. But York said the 49ers would not pursue such an outcome.

York: The Texans drafted Drew Henson and traded him to Dallas, so there is a precedent for that, but that is not something we are considering. We've got two first-round draft picks next year. From my standpoint, if you are not going to spend the money on the draft pick this year, I think we have a lot of young guys that are talented that are going to get contract extensions at some point. I don't know if having three first-round draft choices makes us better or if we reinvest that money back into our team in guys we know. I think we feel pretty good that we have two first-round picks next year. We have a lot of leverage either to move up in the draft, to get two guys where we are, to figure out, 'Do we want to trade one of those picks for someone established already?' We've got enough firepower next year in the draft. I don't think we would do that.



York, responding to a question about whether Deion Sanders' recent comments harmed the process, also suggested Crabtree's stock would fall for reasons beyond the receiver's control if Crabtree entered the 2010 draft.

York: I don't think it harms the process, but we retain Michael's rights until the (2010) draft. So, the worst-case scenario, he doesn't sign, he re-enters the draft. The thing that is tough in that situation, Michael can't work out for anybody. He can't have contact with any of the 31 other teams, and when you do talk about the 10 unnamed GMs that decided they would not have drafted Michael Crabtree [over various concerns], I would have to imagine that that number of guys who didn't draft him increases if you can't talk to him, you can't work him out, you don't know what is going on . I don't think that helps their side of the situation, but from my standpoint, I don't think we are going to get there. I think Michael wants to be a 49er, I think he wants to figure out how to be a part of this and I know he is working hard.



I also think Crabtree will sign with the 49ers sometime this season. To better understand the situation, I recommend reading what Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post wrote recently. A former NFL executive, Brandt provides a definitive analysis of issues likely facing Crabtree and the 49ers. This analysis goes far beyond anything I've seen and qualifies as a must-read for those hoping to better understand these situations and the people involved.

"Despite all the banter about whether Crabtree, the 10th pick in the draft, deserves to be paid like a top five or top seven pick," Brandt writes, "that argument is a nonstarter -- and (agent Eugene) Parker is smart enough to know that."

Does Crabtree want to play for 49ers?

September, 10, 2009
9/10/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Questions, answers and observations as the 49ers prepare for their 2009 regular-season opener without first-round draft choice Michael Crabtree:
Crabtree
1. Is an agreement in sight? The evidence suggests not. Players tend to sign before missing regular-season game checks, but by now we would have seen more signs of movement. None is apparent. Crabtree's throwing session with Trent Dilfer took place three weeks ago, so I wouldn't read much into that. If Crabtree lets one game slip past without signing, we'll know he's as serious as he appears.

2. What is the holdup? It's impossible to know without trusting sources with a vested interest in how the arguments are framed. The cliche says the devil is in the details, and that is probably the case here. High-stakes negotiations for drafted rookies are about identifying which incentive terms will allow the player to maximize total value. What if Crabtree fears he could not hit those incentives in the 49ers' conservative offense? More on that in a bit.

3. Does Crabtree want to play for the 49ers? I'm starting to have doubts. The other first-round picks in this division had a hard time missing training camp practices, let alone exhibition games or the regular season. Beanie Wells traveled overnight to reach Cardinals camp without missing any more practices than necessary. Aaron Curry told reporters he had reached a breaking point after missing one week of camp. Crabtree? Not so much.

4. Why wouldn't Crabtree want to play for the 49ers? Perhaps he's been listening to Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye talking about how they want to run the ball 60 percent of the time, more than any NFL offense ran the ball last season. The way quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Alex Smith performed during the exhibition season probably didn't help. And if you look at Raye's history as a coordinator -- see the chart below -- he's clearly serious about running the football.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

To follow-up on an earlier item, Michael Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker, went on record saying he has never threatened the 49ers about having Crabtree skip this season to re-enter the draft.

Parker: "You've known me a long time and I'm not a guy who makes threats. Nor am I a guy who negotiates in the public. I don't know where this came from but no such threat has been made."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat quotes a 49ers source as confirming what Parker is saying. I just spoke with a 49ers spokesman who offered this: "The 49ers are not going to negotiate in the media. In our view, there has been open and positive communication between both sides."

Sounds to me as though Crabtree's cousin and adviser -- the man who said Crabtree would be "prepared" to sit out the season -- might have overstated things.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers are going back to basics at training camp, starting with blocking and tackling. Crumpacker: "[Mike] Singletary said both morning and afternoon practices will be in full pads for the first two weeks, which is sure to elicit groans from the players. Under previous 49er coaches, players usually wore shorts and shoulder pads in the afternoon and contact was minimal." Sounds like players could be at increased risk for injury.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat blames agent Eugene Parker for Michael Crabtree's unsigned status and draft-day slide to No. 10.

John Cote of the San Francisco Chronicle provides details from a 3,000-page impact report for the 49ers' proposed stadium in Santa Clara. Cote: "Noise from a new football stadium for the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara would significantly affect nearby neighborhoods, but traffic would only be a real problem on the few occasions NFL games are played on weekdays, according to a draft environmental study."

KNBR radio in San Francisco provides audio from 49ers kicker Joe Nedney's recent interview. Nedney: "This is a really good team right now and we are playing with a purpose."

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers tight end Vernon Davis plans to avoid fighting during practice, an issue for him in the past.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation looks at position battles at 49ers camp. Damon Huard isn't part of the equation because Singletary said it's a two-man race between Shaun Hill and Alex Smith.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says rookie Michael Ray Garvin impressed during conditioning tests as the Cardinals reported for camp. Some veterans paced themselves, but all 80 players passed.

Also from Somers: Anquan Boldin isn't complaining at camp this year. Boldin: "How I feel ain't going to change a thing. So, it don't make no sense to sit here and harp on it." 

More from Somers: Cardinals nose tackle Alan Branch is in better shape. If he plays well this season, the team might be able to move Bryan Robinson to end.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com contrasts Boldin's current tack to the one he took last summer. Night and day.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with new Rams defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, no relation. Hollis: "I like beating up on people, that's the only way I can explain it. Take out the frustration. You [media] guys might write something that frustrates me, so I might take it out on the guy that's in front of me next play."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams rookie Chris Ogbonnaya worked overtime Thursday as the only running back available to practice. Also, Craig Dahl picked off Kyle Boller during practice.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says rehabbing receiver Derek Stanley sees special teams as his ticket to a roster spot. 

Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com says the team has high hopes for training camp and for defensive tackle Brandon Mebane in particular.

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks accomplished just about everything they set out to do during free agency, from landing T.J. Houshmandzadeh to drafting Aaron Curry. But a few concerns persist.

John Morgan of Field Gulls singles out 10 storylines for the Seahawks at training camp. Jordan Babineaux's challenge to Brian Russell at free safety makes the top five.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune provides a transcript from Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell's conversation with reporters Thursday. Backup running back Justin Forsett appears better suited than expected for the new one-cut running game.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The video shows ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton's take on Anquan Boldin's decision to change agents.

Clayton, in part: "From the Cardinals' standpoint, they want to work a deal. They don't want to give up one of the best wide recievers in the league.  And certainly after this long fight by Boldin, he just wants some finality to it, whether he is staying there at a fair price or going to a different team. Whether he goes to Tom Condon or whether he goes to Eugene Parker, what Anquan is hoping for is a new set of eyes will try to get this thing moving."

Five days must pass between the firing and hiring of agents. Boldin informed the NFLPA of Drew Rosenhaus' termination Friday. The five-day period began Saturday. Boldin can hire a new agent beginning Thursday.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Andrew from Arlington, Va., writes: Mike, great blog as always. I wonder if you ever sleep since there seem to be new posts constantly. Anyway, reading the post about Drew Rosenhaus' tweets, I decided to check out his Twitter page, which you conveniently linked to.

Fascinating in how meaningless the comments are -- would we really expect an agent to write anything negative about one of his own players? So, why would his glowing reviews of Frank Gore's ankle or Ernest Wilford's work ethic mean anything? Do team representatives get his tweets and think, 'Well, in that case we need to renegotiate this guy's contract.'

So then I was wondering how many players this guy actually represents. Do you have a list of NFC West players represented by Drew Rosenhaus? By Bus Cook or any of the other "big names" in player representation?

Mike Sando: Sleep! I knew there was something missing. That's probably how most busy people feel. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a frequently updated blog, this being my job and all, but I will be taking some down time this summer.

As for the Rosenhaus updates, I'm all for anything that hastens the delivery of accurate information while also encouraging accountability. Sure, he'll be promoting his clients in those Tweets. But if he also lets us know when a client signs or wants a trade, we're all winners because he's on the record and the information is out quickly. We're all able to decide which entries come off as self-serving and which ones are helpful. And if he's going to provide injury updates for Gore and others, we can certainly use that information.

Rosenhaus represented more than 100 NFL players the last time I checked, which would have been late last season, probably. No other agent had as many. I see at least 14 veteran NFC West players on his representation list:

James "Bus" Cook represents a few players in the division, notably Parys Haralson. Eugene Parker represents Larry Fitzgerald, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Steven Jackson and Chilo Rachal, while his partner, Roosevelt Barnes, represents Walter Jones and Alex Barron. Tom Condon represents Marc Bulger, Matt Leinart, Alex Smith, James Hall, Will Witherspoon and Chris Spencer. Condon's partner, Ben Dogra, represents Mike Gandy, Alan Branch, Kenny Iwebema, Patrick Willis and Kelly Jennings.

Those are a few of the heavy hitters in the agent business. Liz Mullen of sportsbusinessjournal.com has details on how Condon and Dogra fared in the 2009 draft.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says draft analyst Rob Rang is now projecting USC quarterback Mark Sanchez as the Seahawks' first-round choice. Drafting a quarterback to sit behind Matt Hasselbeck for at least one season would suggest the Seahawks weren't at all sold on other prospects. Though prosecutors never filed charges after another USC student accused Sanchez of sexual assault, the character-stressing Seahawks have sometimes steered clear of draft prospects with red flags on their resumes.

Also from Johns: A look at the changeover from Mike Holmgren to Jim Mora.

John Morgan of Field Gulls says he thinks Michael Crabtree is the best player available in the NFL draft, and he would be "amped up" if the Seahawks selected the Texas Tech receiver. Morgan provides some statistical analysis showing Crabtree as highly productive.

Also from Morgan: Why he considers Sanchez to be an extremely high-risk prospect among the top-five choices.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic cites a league source as saying Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald could share the Madden 10 cover with Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Also from Somers: Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby wasn't the only player to fire agent Kirk Wood recently. Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans also made the move. Somers wonders how Dansby's expected decision to hire Eugene Parker might affect negotiations with strong safety Adrian Wilson, who already employs Parker. One negotiation would seem to affect the other, regardless of the agent. The Cardinals, who have little salary-cap room, will gain flexibility if and when they release Edgerrin James.

More from Somers: Fitzgerald and quarterback Kurt Warner have charity events planned for the near future.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com thinks Dansby's recent comments suggest the linebacker is looking forward to hitting the open market after the 2009 season.

More from Urban: Parker, Pat Dye and Todd France are among the possible candidates to replace Wood as Dansby's agent.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Kyle Boller felt good about joining the Rams after consulting with Steven Jackson and Richie Incognito. Boller wasn't happy when he heard former Ravens teammate and current Rams center Jason Brown call him gun-shy, but the two have since spoken about the matter. Boller: "I've been with Jason for the last four years [in Baltimore], and I don't have a bad thing to say about him. I think if you talked to him, we've never had any problems. So, we cleared that up right away. It wasn't a big issue at all."

Also from Thomas: Newly acquired receiver Laurent Robinson isn't good enough to affect the Rams' draft plans in the first few rounds, in his view.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee provides background information on Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, who plans to visit the 49ers. Barrows: "Freeman is generally regarded as the third-best quarterback prospect in the draft behind Sanchez and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. At nearly 6-6 and weighing 248 pounds, Freeman is bigger and more athletic than the other two. In 2008, he threw 20 touchdowns against eight interceptions for the Wildcats. He also ran for 14 touchdowns, the second-highest mark for a major college QB last season."

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Cardinals' negotiations with linebacker Karlos Dansby have taken a detour now that the franchise player has fired agent Kirk Wood, as Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports.

Somers' information -- that Dansby plans to hire agents Eugene Parker, Roosevelt Barnes and Paul Lawrence -- matches what an NFL source told me as well. NFLPA rules require a five-day waiting period between firing one agent and hiring another, so nothing will become official until that period passes, presumably later in the week.

This move will set back negotiations in the short term, but if Dansby wasn't happy with what Wood was putting together, he probably wasn't going to sign a deal anytime soon.

Parker, Barnes and Lawrence already represent prominent Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Adrian Wilson.

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