Dark clouds are looming over Napa on the eve of Raider training camp, as first-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is unsigned and a possible holdout.
These are in addition to the dark clouds looming in regards to Heyward-Bey's pulled hamstring.
David White has the alerts on his San Francisco Chronicle Silver & Black blog, noting that the teams whose picks were sandwiched around Heyward-Bey's No. 7 selection haven't signed these players either. The market for Heyward-Bey's contract is essentially unset, but this is a more urgent predicament for Raiders than it is for the sixth-picking Bengals or the eighth-picking Jaguars.or the Raiders. They open training camp Tuesday, whereas the Bengals and Jaguars still have a few more days.
"Oakland's potential problem is they are in a much bigger rush to sign DHB than the Bengals or Jaguars are to sign their top pick, if only because the Raiders report to camp tomorrow," White reports. "The Bengals check in Friday, and the Jaguars have until Aug. 3."
White thinks the Raiders can't afford to wait. "So, if the Raiders want to avoid any sort of holdout from the first-round pick," he continues, "they'll probably have to set the bar instead of waiting for it to get set for them."
Expect the bar to be set, at minimum, with last year's Saints seventh-pick contract for Sedrick Ellis. Ellis got a 5-year, $32 million contract, with $19.5 million of that guaranteed. The guarantted dollars and number of years for Heyward-Bey's contract may vary, but expect some sort of uptick in that overall contract sum.
Even if DHB can be coaxed into signing quickly, he still faces persistent critics of his selection by the Raiders in this year's draft. Rock star Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King goes after Heyward-Bey again in his aptly-named Monday Morning Quarterback column this week.
"I think one of the guys we'll all have eyes on this summer is the first-round pick of the Raiders, wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey," King writes. "Seems like a classic boom-or-bust pick. His college coach, Ralph Friedgen is a huge fan of Heyward-Bey's, but he also says the wideout needs to improve his hands. "
Actually, at this point Heyward-Bey's biggest fans are the people hoping he hurries up and signs a contract and reports to camp.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who has faced similar criticism for his #1 overall selection of Darrius Heyward-Bey this year in his fantasy football league draft.