NAPA -- It only seemed as though Juron Criner was being frozen out of the Raiders' first few days of training camp practice.After all, Criner was the last of Oakland's draft picks to sign and the fifth-round compensatory pick who went No. 168 overall in the NFL draft was reportedly embroiled in a dispute over 14,000 in signing bonus money that was rectified on Sunday. Not exactly a way to endear yourself to new teammates, right?Neither side has said if or how the 14K disagreement was handled but there was Criner on Friday, making plays and catching balls in traffic. Just as he had done during OTAs and minicamp this summer."You cant really have a best day," Criner said after practice. "You can have a good day and you can always get better."He did exactly that before 1,000 fans in the team's second padded practice.Asked if he took any heat from fans in the time before he signed his contract, Criner shrugged."Thats not something that I concern myself with," he said. "Im a player. I have an agent, we have a good relationship. I let him do his job and I do my job."One fan, though, yelled at Criner after a particularly nice grab: "One dollar at a time, Criner. One dollar at a time."Criner has looked up to fourth-year veteran Darrius Heyward-Bey thus far. "I watch his every move," Criner said. "If he sneezes Im there to say bless you. I take as much as I can from a guy like that."I definitely see the progress hes made. That just goes to let me know even if you have a down year its not about what you did, its about the following year. And theres always a way to get better and bounce back and hes definitely a player who did that."Criner said the trade of Louis Murphy only made the receivers bond together more. Having a fellow rookie in the undrafted Rod Streater has also helped his learning curve thus far.The two are roommates in camp."First and foremost, were here to compete," Criner said. "We just help each other outwe go over things that weve seen from each side of the field, things that we can do better, and we definitely watch each other and give each other pointers."Catch everything that comes to us. I guess we both kind of got the label of a possession receiver, so we've got to be fearless in there. Basically, go over the middle, catch anything around us and have the biggest radius we can."Of course, none of it would have happened had Criner actually held out. Not that that was going to happen, mind you.I asked Criner if there was ever a doubt he'd be in camp on time."No, there was no doubts," he said. "At the end of the day, it is my call."
The Raiders locked up Derek Carr last week, signing their franchise quarterback to a five-year, $125 million contract extension.
He isn’t the only member of the 2014 draft class worthy of a raise. Edge rusher Khalil Mack will get a big one, likely at some point next offseason. The Raiders have some time with Mack after exercising a fifth-year contract option available for first-round picks.
General manager Reggie McKenzie didn’t have that luxury with Carr, and his 2014 second-round pick cashed in before formally entering a contract year.
Right guard Gabe Jackson could do the exact same thing. McKenzie prefers to draft, develop and reward homegrown talent, and the 2014 third-round pick should be next in line to do so.
McKenzie has said back in March that he’d like to extend Jackson’s contract, though there isn’t a deadline to do so.
“There’s no timetable,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “But, I alluded to earlier in the offseason that Gabe is one of the guys I want to get locked up.”
That could happen later this offseason, or further into training camp. Despite paying Carr an NFL-record $25 million in 2017, his contract is structured in such a way that there’s room for another offseason extension. That was important for Carr, that the Raiders can sign other members of this young core.
“We figured out a way to do it,” Carr said, “so that we have the opportunity to sign the other guys that I think are important to this organization.”
The Raiders have roughly $18 million in salary cap space after the Carr deal. Some of that is earmarked for the team’s top three draft picks, which remain unsigned to this point. A large sum could go to Jackson as incentive to sign up early, well before he’s eligible to hit the unrestricted free agency.
The offensive guard market is booming, with bigger deals going to a position group generally lower than other spots on the offensive line. The Raiders contributed to that inflation in 2016, signing left guard Kelechi Osemele to a five-year, $58.5 deal with $25.4 million in guarantees.
Osemele is one of eight guards with contracts worth $40 million or more, a list that includes two right guards. Jackson played left guard – the more valued position – until Osemele showed up. He moved to the right without complaint.
Jackson thrived there as well. He didn’t allow a sack in 2016, according to analytics site Pro Football Focus, with 27 quarterback pressures in 735 pass-blocking snaps. Jackson has been a strong run blocker as a pro, where he has started 44 games in three NFL seasons.
Finding proper value to entice Jackson to sign while remaining on budget is McKenzie’s next task, trying to keep a valuable offensive lineman in place for years to come.
ALAMEDA – Derek Carr isn’t one for extravagance. The low-key Raiders quarterback already has some nice cars, a house and some luxury items to his name, but signing a $125 million contract extension Friday morning won't prompt a spending spree.
Cornerback Sean Smith suggested he get a Bugatti. That’s a $1 million car.
“Yeah,” Carr said with a smirk. “That’s not going to happen.”
That isn’t the 26-year old’s style. Carr had a his own plan after signing on the dotted line.
“I’ve been eating clean,” Carr said. “I’ll probably get Chick-fil-A.”
That makes sense. This is a guy who celebrated his first NFL victory with a trip through a Carl’s Jr. drive-in.
There will be other purchases. His wife Heather will get something nice in the near future. His family, especially Heather and sons Dallas and Deker, will be taken care of for life.
After all that, Carr plans to spread the wealth.
“The exciting thing for me moneywise, honestly, is this money is going to help a lot of people,” Carr said. “I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands because it’s going to help people. Not only in this country, but in a lot of countries around the world. That’s what’s exciting to me.”
Carr and former Raiders running back Latavius Murray took a missionary trip to Haiti, an impoverished nation had a profound impact on the star quarterback.
“I’ve been down to Haiti and I’ve seen some of those struggles that they have and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it,” Carr said. “So, just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things that the money makes me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because now we can really do some things to help a lot of people.”
He plans to support those in that area, in addition to global and domestic charities he has been involved with over the years. Don’t expect a press release accompanying every donation. Carr would rather keep those decisions private.
“I’m going to do my best to make sure no one knows what we do with it,” Carr said. “I’ll just say this, I can assure you that it’s going to help a lot of people. I’m not stingy. My business manager will probably be on me saying, ‘Hey man, that’s enough.’ I won’t get into when, how or why. It’s not all about that for me. It’s about making a difference. That’s what’s exciting for me is that we’ll be able to do that.”