After six seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Michael Crabtree hit free agency and landed not too far from Santa Clara. The former first-round pick signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Oakland Raiders on April 13 of this year and automatically became the best receiver on the roster.
The signing wasn't too shocking, but many questioned what kind of teammate Crabtree would be. We've all heard the knocks on him and very few have to do with his production on the field. Throughout the offseason and in all the interviews, his Raiders teammates and coaches have spoken highly of "King Crab", but has there been visible change?
From this outsider's point of view, that appears to be the case.
Change of attitude: New teammates have spoken highly of Crabtree.
Raiders coaches and teammates have all spoken highly of the Raiders new weapon. Head Coach Jack Del Rio and second-year quarterback Derek Carr have shared their thoughts on the receiver and how the past won't dictate the future.
"I don't know that I'd really concern myself with how people felt before he got here," said Del Rio during OTA's. "I'm really most concerned with the teammate that he is and the player that he is for us here and now."
Crab's new QB has been gushing over his new target's presence on the practice field, but Carr's comments on the vet's locker room presence is what resonates more.
"He's such a great teammate," said Carr. "I love the guy. I talk to him all the time. We're always talking about the game. We're always talking ball. We're always talking routes, concepts, and what we're going to do during the game, and hand signals, all those things. He is a football junkie. He's been a nice guy, a nice addition to our team."
Those comments from Carr, and the Instagram post below, prove the two are building a connection.
Putting in the work: Crabtree travels to Bakersfield to join Carr and co.
As his tenure in San Francisco was coming to an end, many outsiders believed there was a disconnect between Crabtree and quarterback Colin Kaepernick. That, of course, is hearsay but there weren't too many instances of the two spending time together off the field.
In his first offseason with the Raiders, Crabtree and several other receivers traveled down to Bakersfield and joined Carr for a little workout session. This may not seem like a big deal to a spectator, but it shows a connection between WR and QB when the former takes part in workouts put together by the latter.
Leading the pack: New role puts all eyes on #15
Crabtree may only be 27, but he's entering his 7th year in the NFL. He's amassed 4,900 yards receiving throughout his career, including the postseason, and has scored 30 touchdowns during that span. He's the most accomplished receiver on the roster and will have the eyes and ears of those around him.
This is a young squad that isn't packed with guys that have a ton of postseason experience. That rings especially true with the wide receivers. Crabtree has been a part of some memorable postseason games and moments, both good and bad. Its the experience and winning mentality that can make him an asset on the field, but even more so in the meeting rooms.
When the Raiders signed Crabtree they knew what kind of production they were getting, but the questions of his attitude and personality had some wondering if he was going to fit the "team first" mentality Del Rio and company wanted. So far this offseason he has shown that he's serious about building a bond with his teammates and take that attitude onto the field.