With just days to go before the start of training camp, the Raiders are in jeopardy of missing one of their key new pieces.
Cornerback Gareon Conley of Ohio State, Oakland’s top draft choice, the 24th overall player taken, has yet to sign with the Raiders.
Mike Florio, of NBC’s Pro Football Talk, reported Thursday that Conley and the Raiders are in negotiations, but there may not be a quick solution. When players are scheduled to report for camp July 27, Conley still may not have a deal, and his rookie season could get off to a slow start.
An off-the-field incident that occurred in Cleveland, just before the draft, has slowed the process. Conley was accused of sexual assault, an allegation he denies.
“The things being said about me and what happened that night are not true and don’t fit my character at all,” Conley said at the time.
The Raiders said they did their homework on Conley and the incident and believe he eventually will be cleared of the allegation. But so far, authorities involved in the investigation haven’t issued a ruling and until it’s resolved, Conley will have to wait.
As one of the best cornerback prospects in the recent draft, Conley could earn playing time and make an impact as a rookie. He’s a fast, talented player who tested well at the NFL Combine and performed very well his final two seasons for the Buckeyes.
For now, though, he and the Raiders are in limbo.
Wrote Florio: “Will the Raiders sign Conley before the case is resolved and, if so, what protections will they seek for a situation that they knew about when they made Conley the pick? The player has every right to hold firm with the position that he should get exactly what any other player would have gotten as the 24th pick in the draft.
“But the Raiders have every right to refuse to do that, and to move forward without him – until the team knows that he won’t be facing indictment, trial and possibly conviction and incarceration.”