Raiders release wide receiver Michael Crabtree

Michael Crabtree's Oakland career is over after three productive seasons.

The Raiders released Crabtree on Thursday afternoon.

Although Jon Gruden expressed optimism over Crabtree's prospects in mid-February, the new coach was noncommittal when asked about the veteran wideout at the NFL Scouting Combine two weeks later.

Once the Raiders brought in former Packers Pro Bowler Jordy Nelson for a Wednesday night visit, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Crabtree's roster spot was in jeopardy. Nelson promptly signed a two-year deal Thursday afternoon, leading to Crabtree's release.

The 30-year-old was due to count $7.7 million against the 2018 salary cap.

Going back to December, the Las Vegas Review-Journal has repeatedly questioned Crabtree's staying power, citing locker-room issues.

Crabtree has a reputation for strong hands, precision route running and red-zone production, ranking in the top five in receiving touchdowns over the past three seasons. Antonio Brown is the only other receiver with at least eight scores in each of those years.

That said, Crabtree's playmaking ability vanished down the stretch last season, leaving him with an anemic 10.7 yards per reception.

The 10th-year veteran shouldn't be out of work long. As evidenced by Paul Richardson and Marqise Lee wide receivers with even a hint of promise are in high demand in this market. Crabtree is ranked No. 44 on's *Top 101 Free Agents of 2018* list.

The Baltimore Ravens are among the teams interested in pursuing Crabtree, according to Rapoport, with their offer to Ryan Grant in jeopardy due to an issue during his physical.

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