Training camps are opening around the country in the coming days, and the new crop of pros are getting their initiation to the National Football League. There are stragglers every year, typically first round draft choices negotiating for more money. Getting fifth rounders into camp by day one is typically the sure bet.
But there's been little typical about the Oakland Raiders in recent years.
Arizona wide receiver and 2012 NFL Draft fifth round selection Juron Criner is yet to sign with Oakland, with the first day of camp looming on Monday.
Draft picks have been of little concern for the franchise recently. New GM Reggie McKenzie was hired in the winter, thus had no involvement in the trade that sent the 2012 first round choice and a 2013 conditional pick to Cincinnati for Carson Palmer, but McKenzie has struggled to ink the Raiders' first two selections.
Third round pick and Utah offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom signed on Friday, reported San Francisco Chronicle Raider beat writer Vic Tafur. Tafur also wrote that leaves Criner among just four draftees unsigned, and the other three are first rounders.
CSN Bay Area's Paul Gutierrez reports that there is not much finagling going on from Criner's agent, Peter Schaffer, simply because there cannot be -- his salary is more or less set per NFL rookie cap regulations. He cannot earn more than $500,000 until his third season.
So why the haggling over what constitute pennies by NFL standards? Criner impressed in organized team activities this spring, drawing comparisons to 2011 rookie breakout star Denarius Moore from SBNation's Raider blog Silver & Black Pride. The Raiders have a need at receiver after just shipping Louis Murphy to Carolina.
As some can attest during this tumultuous economic times, even scraping together pennies can be a chore. The NFL is hardly feeling the pinch of the global recession, but the league's franchises work within their own economy. And the Raiders entered free agency perilously close to becoming Football Greece.
Oakland made moves to get under the salary cap by the March deadline, but there is hardly a surplus on the books. Tafur reported the organization expects to have Criner in camp by its opening, but what a way to for the rookie to enter.