Oakland Raiders wide receiver Juron Criner at 2012 OTA's (photo by Levi Damien)
Much has been made of the fact that the Raiders have the only two drafted rookies outside the second round who have yet to be signed. Those two picks are third round compensatory pick Tony Bergstrom and fifth round compensatory pick Juron Criner.
UPDATE: Tony Bergstrom signed his rookie contract shortly after this posting.
And while there were a few teams to sign their third round picks last minute, every other draft pick outside the third round besides Criner has been signed long ago. This is rather troubling considering the Raiders players report to Napa for training camp tomorrow.
Up to this point, we have had no indication why these players have not signed. Some theories are simply that the contracts will waiting in Napa when they arrive, at which point it is a simple stroke of the pen and they can get to work. But a conversation Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle had with Criner's agent Peter Schaffer tells us that is not the case.
Schaffer insisted there was no concern of Criner not signing. But when pressed about whether Criner would be in camp on time and at practice on Monday, he could not confirm it. He only said "I didn't say that."
There is no reason for Schaffer to talk in code or keep anyone guessing unless there is still some language in Criner's contract upon which they have yet to agree.
But what could they still have disagreements about? And who is the one holding it up? Is it Schaffer or Criner?
Neither player nor agent should be in this position. Each drafted player has a set salary based on their draft position. And for a player who was taken essentially in the sixth round, due to his being a compensatory pick, there should be little in the way of haggling over figures.
And how can Shaffer say there is no cause for concern and then speak cryptically about whether Criner will be on the practice field on Monday? Clearly a deal has not been struck and therefore there is cause for concern. Heck, there was cause for concern a month ago when all the other late round picks were signing their deals and Criner did not.
So at this point, even if he does sign his deal and get in on time, it doesn't look good. Either Criner is indeed a serious diva or he needs to fire his agent. A few nice catches in non-contact drills in OTA's does not a can't miss pick make.
Just think about if/when he makes a couple catches in an actual game. From the looks of it, if that happens, we can expect a holdout for more money well before he has completed this rookie contract which he and his agent are asking for more guarantees.