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A ‘Prime’ Concern
“Why would you settle for $20 million when you feel like you can get $40 million,” Sanders said. “That’s the problem.”
Speaking on the NFL Network, Sanders said two teams approached the 49ers about trading for the rights to the Texas Tech receiver. Sanders said the unnamed teams “will pay this kid, and he knows that.”
A 49ers spokesman said: “Those discussions never happened.”
The deadline to trade an unsigned draft pick was Aug. 14.
On that date, owner Jed York reiterated his commitment to signing Crabtree saying, “We’re all in.”
The 49ers would be unable to trade him until March 1, even if they signed him now. San Francisco retains his rights until the 2010 draft.
Crabtree is the draft’s lone unsigned player. He is represented by agent Eugene Parker, who once represented Sanders.
Sanders hit the airwaves a few hours before the 49ers’ exhibition finale against the San Diego Chargers.
“Is he willing to sit out the entire year? I think so. I really think so,” Sanders said.
Neither the 49ers nor the Crabtree camp has disclosed figures publicly. Sanders characterized the 49ers’ offer as five years and $20 million.
It is believed that Crabtree, who thought he should have gone higher than No. 10, wants money commensurate with a higher pick. Sanders said the contracts from this year’s first round demonstrate the flaws in the slotting system.
“First of all, I would like to say that he’s not thinking he’s the No. 1 pick. That’s not the case,” Sanders said. “He’s realizing that he is a No. 10, but he’s not going to suffer for the lack of contract negotiation power with the agents who didn’t do a good job or some of the players who caved in and really didn’t get what they’re worth.”
Crabtree missed all of training camp and all four of the 49ers’ exhibition games.
Starting next week, he will start missing the game checks that would come with being on an NFL roster.
Sanders countered that Crabtree still has plenty of leverage.
“Pretty much the San Francisco 49ers need him desperately,” he said. “You would think Michael Crabtree would need it, but he’s not in dire need of money at this time, and I’m saying that honestly.”