Raiders, Rolando McClain Play Waiting Game

Come one week from today – when the Oakland Raiders begin training camp – chances are they’ll be without top pick Rolando McClain. While McClain is highly unlikely to enter into a JaMarcus Russell-esque holdout, the eighth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft will undoubtedly miss the initial days of camp.

However, McClain’s absence will have nothing to do with his demands. JaMarcus notwithstanding, the Raiders have had great success at signing draft picks and getting them into camp early. Look no further than Darrius Heyward-Bey who one year ago missed just one day of training camp after agreeing to a contract worth $38-million.

As the seventh pick in the ’09 draft, Heyward-Bey’s contract turned a few heads. In fact, the $23.5-million DHB is guaranteed to collect created shockwaves throughout the NFL.  Never one to follow others, Al Davis didn’t wait until all six players drafted in front of Hey-Bey were signed, thus creating the tidal wave of controversy that came crashing down when Michael Crabtree finally ended his near career suicidal contractual holdout.  

The DHB controversy originally stemmed from the surprise of the Raiders drafting the Maryland track star ahead of Crabtree. After that, his rookie deal was just lighter fluid sprayed on an already lit fire.

This time around there won’t be as much hoopla surrounding the deal Rolando McClain will sign. By selecting McClain instead of reaching for a less proven prospect, the Raiders bought themselves a drama free draft night. However, by selecting in the top 10 for the 5th year in a row, the Raiders are once again obligated to commit another $15-20 million in guaranteed cash to an unknown commodity.

Despite the NFL’s standing as the king of all American sports, there is still much that needs to be done to rectify rookie salaries.

With Jacoby Ford under contract, the Raiders have just three unsigned picks remaining. On the small scale that would seem ideal. When you look at the big picture though, you’ll see that not a single first round pick is under contract yet.

If top pick Sam Bradford puts his John Hancock on the largest rookie contract in league history, you can expect the players picked behind him to follow suit. By all indications, Bradford is set to earn a cool $40-50 million in guaranteed money.

While McClain won’t be anywhere near Bradford’s zip code, you can expect that he’ll be looking for something in the Heyward-Bey neighborhood. Of course, that is all relative to what the teams in front of the Raiders are willing to commit to their respective rookies.   

As stated previously, the Raiders front office won’t be waiting for the rest of the league to set the standard for rookie contracts but they certainly will be cautious not to jump the gun.

Thus, the waiting game has officially begun.

As it stands, only second round pick Lamarr Houston and seventh round selection Stevie Brown remain for the Raiders to sign. Houston is likely to reach a deal in time for the start of camp. History is not on Brown’s side. The last member to join the Raiders 2010 Draft Class could go the way of Stryker Sulak if there is no deal in place in the coming days.

How long McClain and the Raiders will take to reach an agreement is unknown. Al Davis wastes little time in making moves, more often than not striking before the iron has even reached its highest temperature. With an uncertain future due to looming labor issues, this could be the year that Davis and Co. play it a little safer and allow the teams in front of them to set the market price for an 8th pick in 2010. Or it could be business as usual and McClain will arrive early in camp with a multi-million dollar contract in hand.

Of course, we don’t know when to expect any of this to happen. Like McClain, the Raiders and the rest of the NFL, we’re all stuck waiting.

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Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Darrius Heyward-Bey Jacoby Ford JaMarcus Russell Lamarr Houston Michael Crabtree Rolando McClain Sam Bradford Stevie Brown Stryker Sulak

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