Last night and early this morning, we discussed the holdout of Buffalo Bills DE Aaron Maybin and the massive hit in popularity the rookie has taken during his 20-day holdout. Though we tried to make the point that no side is completely to blame for the holdout, the biggest hurdle to a deal remains 49ers WR Michael Crabtree - who along with his agent, the notorious Eugene Parker, is attempting to alter the slotting process for rookie wages and score a fat deal.
Today, word broke that Crabtree's holdout could stretch into September; speculation is arising that Crabtree might not sign until the days prior to San Francisco's season opener. (There is precedent here; another Parker client, former Bills OT Jason Peters, pulled the exact same stunt prior to the 2008 season.) Rather than continuing to slow down negotiations for Maybin (as well as three other unsigned first-round picks), however, this latest bit of Crabtree news could get the ball rolling in Buffalo.
Kawakami on Crabtree
Tim Kawakami, who writes for the San Jose Mercury News, broke the news about Crabtree on Wednesday. His explanation:
Crabtree’s absence might be jeopardizing his ability to produce right away, but he’s not jeopardizing any serious money until the week of Sept. 13 – that first game check. That’s when Crabtree and Parker will have to make their largest decision. Do they go all-in and start bypassing game-checks in order to put even more pressure on the 49ers?
Kawakami is convinced that the holdout will last until September - and again, knowing Parker's history, that shouldn't be surprising. The real point here is that Parker is the only agent that plays his game this way, at least as far as we can tell. Mike Florio, for one, thinks that Joel Segal might not be as willing to wait so long to get his client signed.
Florio on Maybin (and B.J. Raji)
Once Florio caught wind of Crabtree's possible intentions, he began hearing that Maybin (and Raji) could see the pace of their respective negotiations pick up.
... we're now hearing that the ongoing discrepancy between Crabtree and the 49ers might soon prompt the guys picked before and after Crabtree to go ahead and do their deals...
The rest of the article discusses how the possible signings of Raji and Maybin could provide a boost to the 49ers' stance in negotiations with Crabtree. But we don't care about that. We care solely about the fact that the possibility exists that Segal and the Bills could pick up negotiations in an effort to avoid the stench of Crabtree.
Because honestly, folks - no rookie's name is mud like Crabtree's is right now. Any rookie/agent duo that follows suit at this point is risking the same PR nightmare that Crabtree is currently dealing with; likewise, Segal has a chance to boost his credibility by becoming an agent that shows patience in getting his client fair deals, but isn't so crazy that he holds them out until right before the games count. Next year's rookie class would certainly take note of that fact.
Bills, Maybin will remain silent
Bills COO/GM Russ Brandon spoke with the AP on Wednesday, telling John Wawrow that there has been no progress in the negotiations with Segal and Maybin. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but that may have just been a timing issue. Maybin himself, on the other hand, offered a little hope to his fans during his temporary Twitter sign-off on Tuesday, telling fans that they would "see A.M. very soon!"
Chances are strong that if the speculation is correct and Segal is considering speeding up negotiations, he'll wait a day or two to make sure that Crabtree and Parker are as stubbornly entrenched in their holdout as they're made out to be. For the first time since Maybin's holdout began nearly three weeks ago, however, there's a glimmer of hope. We'll see if it snowballs here in the next few days.