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NFL Holdouts Weigh Time, Money

Oakland Raiders third-year quarterback JaMarcus Russell sounds just like a coach after a recent training camp practice. He praises the potential of rookie wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey but stresses it's important the seventh overall pick learn as much as he can during the preseason.

Reminded that he missed out on such lessons while holding out through the season's first game as a rookie, Russell, who didn't even play until late in his first year, nods and simply says, "Right. Set me back."

And that's the dilemma facing the final two unsigned first-round draft picks: offensive tackle Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals and wide receiver Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers.

Both players want more money. And Heyward-Bey's five-year deal for $38.25 million, with $23.5 million guaranteed, has become something of a benchmark for both holdouts.

Smith, the sixth overall pick, has been offered a five-year pact worth $8 million to $10 million less.

Crabtree, the 10th overall pick, also wants money in the Heyward-Bey range, if for no other reason than he thinks he's as good as or better than the rookie from Maryland.

Smith's agent, Alvin Keels, met with the Bengals last weekend and reported the results on his Twitter account, writing, "Leaving Cinci. Not any closer on a deal for Andre Smith. (Team president) Mike Brown says 'the ship has sailed on the slotting system.' "

Crabtree's agent, Eugene Parker, has tried to distance himself and his client from comments this month by Crabtree adviser David Wells, a cousin of the player who declared Crabtree was prepared to sit out the season and re-enter the draft.

Niners coach Mike Singletary obviously isn't happy, but he hardly obsesses about Crabtree's absence, either, saying, "I coach the players who are here."

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