It used to be that getting an entire draft class under contract in time for the start of training camp was a task more improbable than the Chargers winning a Super Bowl. Then the NFL came to its senses and imposed a rookie wage scale. Thanks to the new common sense approach of making players prove their worth before giving them license to holdout for franchise money almost 75% of the players drafted just over a month ago are signed and sealed, ready to go for the start of camp.
While the entire process has been reduced to a formality teams like the Oakland Raiders are still taking their time in inking their draft class. The Raiders aren’t alone with four other teams moving at a snail’s pace in getting their rookies under contract for the coming season.
Just goes to show you that even without Al Davis running the show the Raiders are still working at their own pace. There are also other franchises that are still playing follow the leader as if Davis were still pulling the strings.
In addition to Oakland the Cowboys, Saints, Jaguars and Rams are also void of any rookie contract “negotiations”. Perhaps just a business tactic, all of the previously mentioned teams have engaged in OTAs and rookie camps of some sort. Maybe the intention is to see which players are going to take those first steps towards being a true professional.
It rarely happens but just a few years back the Raiders cut a member of their draft class before training camp even started. The release of sixth rounder Styrker Sulak came before the team even offered him a contract. Not saying that is going to happen again but there is no doubt some evaluation in play. How else can you explain teams dragging their feet when there is no real negotiating involved anymore?
What makes Oakland’s situation so much different is that they have no high round draft picks to haggle with. Even though first round picks are slotted there is still some back and forth on guaranteed money and how the years are structured on a deal. For the Raiders their top pick was Utah’s Tony Bergstrom who didn’t come off the board until 95th overall. There really is no reason not to have the entire class under contract yesterday.
But as mentioned it is all a formality anyway. The Raiders will open camp with all their rookies under contract as will every NFL team. There really is no reason not to.