If Michael Crabtree doesn't sign his contract by the time the first game checks are handed out late next week, he'll start losing money. But it's not as if the rookie wide receiver doesn't have a bit of change in his pocket already. After the college season, Crabtree was perhaps the most popular player heading into the draft - USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was his only competition in that regard - and he signed a number of endorsement deals at the time.
Among them were deals with EA Sports, Subway, Nike's Jordan Brand sneakers, three trading card companies and MogoTXT. How much is that worth? I spoke with a couple of marketing representatives not affiliated with Crabtree, who said it's impossible to pinpoint the dollar amount without seeing the deals. The trading card deals usually put money in a player's pocket right away. The prestigious Jordan Brand deal on the other hand, while potentially lucrative, probably is based on Crabtree's performance on the field. Best guess: Crabtree easily has made six figures already but probably not seven figures.
Interestingly, that last deal with MogoTXT requires Crabtree to update his followers with occasional messages. His latest, on Aug. 24:
MichaelCrabtree:Hey peps just hollaring at u i am still working hard getting stronger and faster oh yea i am ready to go so i can put on a show 4 ya Sent 3:05:30 PM Mon Aug 24 '09
The post before that one may be more meaningful because it came on Aug. 7, a day after reports surfaced that Crabtree was threatening to sit out the entire season and re-enter the 2010 draft.
MichaelCrabtree:What up peps yeah this ur boy crab just want to say dont belive the hype i am ready to this thing in the bay i am putting the gym just on the low until its time to go!,do it 4 uSent 12:26:06 PM Fri Aug 7 '09
Crabtree also has money heading his way from jersey sales. According to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com, a look at NFL jersey sales from the first four months of the fiscal year shows that Crabtree's No. 15 jersey ranks 20th in the league. Among rookies, he is only behind Sanchez, a starter for the Jets. NFL players get about 6 percent every time their jersey is sold.
Rovell does note that the fact that Crabtree hasn't signed is hurting jersey sales. Crabtree was ranked No. 8 in sales in early August. It's also hard to see Crabtree signing any new deals considering he has yet to even practice with the 49ers. Still, one of his marketing managers, Peter Miller of Jabez Marketing Group, said that rookies typically don't have a lot of endorsement opportunities at the beginning of the season anyway. "That's when they're concentrating on football," Miller said. "I don't think we ever had a plan to do anything in August."
Here's the entire list from sales on NFLShop.com from the NFL's first four months of the fiscal year. Courtesy of CNBC.com.
1. Brett Favre, Vikings
2. Jay Cutler, Bears
3. Troy Polamalu, Steelers
4. Michael Vick, Eagles
5. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
6. Tony Romo, Cowboys
7. Mark Sanchez, Jets
8. Tom Brady, Patriots
9. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
10. Eli Manning, Giants
11. Terrell Owens, Bills
12. Peyton Manning, Colts
13. Hines Ward, Steelers
14. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
15. Jason Witten, Cowboys
16. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
17. Joe Flacco, Ravens
18. Matt Ryan, Falcons
19. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
20. Michael Crabtree, 49ers
-- Matt Barrows