In one of the wilder scenarios of the Oakland Raiders’ offseason, and one that will be likely be debated repeatedly, they essentially swapped Jordy Nelson for Michael Crabtree on Thursday.
The Raiders cut Crabtree, who was due $14.5 million in the next two years and who had a $7.78 million salary cap hit this year. Nelson’s numbers aren’t in, but it has been reported that he will get $13 million guaranteed in the next two years. So, the two deals are similar.
So, basically the Raiders traded Nelson for Crabtree as far as contract and playing time will matter.
Was it the smart call? Is Nelson better than Crabtree?
Well, maybe in some regards.
I would have felt more comfortable with this deal had the Raiders got Nelson for about half his deal. That way, they could have cut Crabtree, signed Nelson and used some Crabtree money for a defensive piece. The Raiders have a ton of needs and limited cap room. This decision says Nelson will be better than Crabtree.
Maybe the Raiders will be right. It is important to remember though Green Bay reportedly wanted to cut Nelson’s deal all then way done to the $1 million range. Of course, Green Bay’s former offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett is now the receiver coach in Oakland, so he vouched for Nelson.
Nelson’s production dipped last year. Yes, you can say it was because he missed Aaron Rodgers, who missed more than half the season. But Davante Adams and Randall Cobb had typical seasons without Rodgers.
The biggest worry to me about this swap is that Nelson will be 33 in May. Oakland clearly thinks he can be full-time player by the way it is paying him and by cutting Crabtree.
I’m not the biggest Crabtree fan, but he will be 31 in September. Two years is a big deal in the NFL, especially at a skill position.
Yes, Nelson has better hands and is a better locker-room guy and leader than Crabtree. That will help. But Oakland is relying on Nelson to stay healthy and produce big more than anything.
This deal has its risks. If it doesn’t work out, this will be remembered for a long time.