Juron Criner is in camp, and there are two stories attached to him that I think are unfair because of their context.
The first is his contract situation.
There have been a bunch of stories stating that Criner was holding out over $14,000. In the world of professional sports, that doesn’t seem like a lot. But when you figure that the guy’s slot bonus was $144,000, he was essentially fighting for 10% of his guaranteed money.
That $144,000 (the correct bonus amont, according to the NFL Management Council’s guidelines) could be the biggest payday of his career if he suffered a career-ending injury or washed out, however unlikely that seems based on the number of flashy catches he made during OTAs.
So I don’t begrudge him holding out for an extra 10%. Living in the Bay Area is expensive.
The second story: Criner will be battling Jacoby Ford for a spot … either as a starter or on the depth chart.
This story also seems to be totally out of context, as Ford and Criner are two different players with vastly different skill-sets.
Ford, as my buddy Matt’s Dad would put it, is a “PURE SPEED-BURNER.” He’s a guy who could be a huge contributor returning punts and kicks even if he never played another down at wide receiver. He has the second fastest 40-time in NFL combine history, and his unofficial 10-yard split was 1.45 seconds. This is a big deal because no other receivers even had a 10-yard split under 1.5 seconds that year.
He is also 5-9 and weighs 180 pounds.
In other words, Jacoby Ford was the kind of player Al Davis loved and drafted. Many times.
Juron Criner is exactly the kind of receiver Mr. Davis would not have drafted.
- He ran a 4.68 40 at the combine and nobody cares what his 10 yard split is.
- He is the biggest Raiders receiver contending for a featured role at 6-3, 224 .
- He was drafted “just” to catch passes, which is a lot sexier than it sounds.
So for the record:
A) Juron Criner wasn’t holding out over a petty sum of money … he was holding out for 10 percent of his guaranteed money.
B) Juron Criner isn’t battling Jacoby Ford for a position … unless Dennis Allen is still figuring out what kind of role the No. 3 receiver will play in his offense.
If Allen wants a well-rounded receiving corps, Ford will probably find himself contributing more on special teams than as a receiver. If Ford can stay healthy and uses his once-in-a-lifetime speed to become one of the best returners in the game, the Raiders will have the most fearsome special teams unit in the league.