Getty ImagesIn the end, rookie wide receiver Juron Criner was signed in time to get to training camp with the Oakland Raiders. He almost didn't make it, though, due to a $14,000 contract dispute.
I don't mean to make light of the $14K - for most folks, that's a pretty substantial chunk of income and it was apparently a big deal to Juron Criner, too. But in terms of NFL contract disputes, it seems like a pittance. Peyton Manning makes $14K every time he wipes his sweaty hands on a towel.
Criner, probably wisely, decided it wasn't worth the fight and signed the lighter contract.
Bill Williamson of ESPN.com explains the origin of the $14K dispute, according to a source familiar with the contract negotiations:
… Criner's request is based on what the players drafted directly ahead of him were paid in bonus money … From picks No. 30-32 in the round; the difference between the bonus money was in the $2,000 range for each pick. The bonus money for the No. 32 pick in the fifth round (Cincinnati safety George Iloka) was $160,000-plus. Criner wants the $2,000 bonus decline to continue.
So basically, the 165th pick received a bonus of $164,000, the 166th pick got $162,000, and the 167th pick got $160,000. Two thousand dollars less with each pick is how it went. The 168th pick, however, was a compensatory selection, and the bonus slotting for that draft position is different. About $14,000 different.
Criner wanted $158,000, which did make sense. NFL rules, though, said he got $144,000. So if he wanted to really dig in on his stance, he wouldn't be fighting against the Raiders, he'd be fighting against the NFL itself. Which is a fight that Juron Criner probably wasn't going to win.
For a rookie wide receiver, being at camp on time is way, way, way more valuable than $14K. It's especially important for Criner, who's in position to earn a lot of playing time as a rookie. The Raiders loved what they saw out of him in OTAs and minicamps.
If he continues along that path, he'll more than make up that $14K in a future contract.
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