Oakland Raiders offensive guard Tony Bergstrom accepts his new jersey (photo by Levi Damien)
It's certainly a new era for the draft with the new rookie cap being implemented. Most of this year's 253 draft picks have been signed already. It used to be this process wouldn't really kick into high gear until July. But it is past mistakes combined with the new era in Oakland that has the team waiting on signing their picks.
While most NFL teams have signed some or all of their draft picks, the Raiders have not signed any of their picks. They are among five teams who have yet to sign a single draft pick. The others are the Cowboys, Jaguars, Saints, and Rams.
The Raiders have six picks in the 2012 NFL draft with the first pick not coming until the final selection of the third round. Their picks plus those of the other four teams' picks make up 34 of the 79 unsigned draftees this season.
While just ten of the first round picks signed, the league is still well ahead of schedule. Typically most of those first round picks don't begin signing until training camp nears. And often times they don't sign until late in camp or even hold out into the regular season. Such was the case with Raiders 2007 number on overall pick, JaMarcus Russell. He held out into the season and the result was a huge contract and him not seeing the field until the final two games of his rookie season.
That huge contract Russell received continues to haunt the Raiders to this day. He busted out of the league and the Raiders used the uncapped 2010 season to dump him and once there was a new CBA and a new salary cap in place, the league punished the Raiders for their actions by not giving them the same $1.6 million cap bonus they gave 28 other teams.
You may notice two of the other teams who have not signed their draft picks-- the Cowboys and Saints-- were among those penalized for contract manipulation during the uncapped year. The Cowboys were docked $10 million on their cap spread over the next two seasons and the Saints, like the Raiders, didn't receive the league wide cap bonus.
Oddly enough, the most penalized team-- the Redskins who were docked $36 million-- have signed three draft picks. Although, they were two seventh round picks and on fifth rounder so it isn't a big investment. They still have six picks yet to sign (equal to or greater than the total number of 2012 draft picks by the Jaguars, Saints, and Raiders) including the number two overall pick, Robert Griffin III.
The Saints also have the whole bounty suspension and appeals thing to worry about right now. It's hard to say why the Jaguars and Rams are waiting on signing their rookies but the Raiders, Cowboys, and Saints simply have greater issues to deal with at present. There is no real rush on signing their draft picks. Training camp is still two months away so it doesn't take high priority.
The Raiders have been in cap hell all off season and continue to try to get Tyvon Branch and Marcel Reece signed long term. Thus far Branch has signed his franchise tag which has him participating in OTA sessions but Reece hasn't signed his exclusive rights restricted free agent tender and he can't report until he either signs that or a new deal.
On top of the contract dealings with players, the Raiders are still actively hiring front office personnel. They just recently announced a major overhaul to their personnel department as well as a new director of security.
There is nothing to worry about with regard to the Raiders signing their picks. All the players are able to participate in OTA's and there are no first round picks so there will be no worries about coming up with the money to sign them.
These signings will come in due time and my guess is once they shift their focus to getting them done, they will have them lined up and ready with a pen and announce them in one lump.