One word: finally. Just when myself and the Raider Nation thought that we were going to have a holdout on our hands, rookie Juron Criner agrees to terms with the team. The news broke earlier this afternoon, making this WR out of Arizona the sixth and final rookie of the Raiders’ 2012 draft class to sign on. Quite an accomplishment for first-year GM, Reggie McKenzie, to have all six signed in time for camp!
There were rumours swirling before this weekend that Criner’s signing bonus came down to a $14,000 difference. Immediately fans (including myself) piped up, suggesting that he was a “diva” and wondering how he could hold out when he hasn’t even played a single game yet. The first idea that came to my mind was now that the Raiders had sent WR Louis Murphy packing to the east coast, Criner probably figured he had the upper hand on front office. He has been all the rave amongst Oakland sports media since OTAs earlier in the summer, and I think he knows that the press has pumped him up to be one of the steals of the draft.
I guess a lot of Raider fans on Twitter were giving Criner some grief over the weekend, probably sharing my same sentiment. Criner tweeted this morning, a few hours before the signing leaked onto the Internet:
Now I never did tweet Criner directly to express my negative thoughts, but sometimes Raider fans can be relentless. Some took this tweet to heart, as a stab to the fan base, but in my opinion he had to say something to defend himself. As far as I have read, there were no clear reports of what actually happened behind closed doors in the board room; whether Criner was bitter at all during this process we’ll never know.
I do know that Raider Nation is highly anticipating seeing what this kid can do on the football field; we know the starting three wide receivers will likely be DHB, Ford and Moore, but the fourth starting spot is now up for grabs. Since Criner did not post the greatest time in the 40-yard dash at the combine, he might not be able to go deep, but it is being said that he will be a definite red-zone threat (that little tidbit alone has me elated already).
On another note, yesterday our first 2012 draft pick in the third round out of Utah, OL Tony Bergstrom, also agreed to terms with the Raiders. I did not read anything with regards to there being a dispute over his rookie contract, but he also waited until the last minute. I’m probably one of the more excited fans to see this guy play on a line with Stefen Wisniewski, who has been moved from guard to center; after last season, the O-line does need a bit of work and I’m sure starting QB Carson Palmer wouldn’t mind the extra help.
Training camp can now officially start worry-free when it comes to the rookies. I will post more on their progress as camp moves along over the next few weeks.