Eyebrows were raised during the 2000 NFL Draft when the Oakland Raiders drafted a placekicker in the first round. That kicker was named Sebastian Janikowski, who played collegiately at Florida State. At the time, this pick was viewed as making little to no sense. Picking a kicker in the first round doesn’t happen very often. Making a pick like that surely couldn’t work out. Well, it is now 17 years later, and Janikowski is still kicking. Sebastian has had a great NFL career, and at this point, his time on the Raiders could be coming to an end.
Sebastian Janikowski’s Future With the Oakland Raiders
Janikowski signed a four-year deal worth $19 million back in 2013. In the upcoming season, he is scheduled to make over $4 million, and this has him as one of the league’s highest paid kickers. It’s not unusual for kickers to play into their 40s, but at 39 years old, Janikowski certainly doesn’t have the leg power he used to have. When it came to kicks of 50+ yards, Janikowski made only three of eight in 2016, which comes out to 37.5%. But his overall season percentage came out to 82.9% which is the seventh best of his 17 year career.
Kicks from about 49 yards in are pretty much a shoe in for Janikowski. Unfortunately, nowadays, he is way too inconsistent with those long kicks. Oakland will have to weigh the pros and cons of keeping an older kicker, worth a lot of money, that doesn’t have the leg he used to have. “The Polish Cannon” used to be his nickname for a reason.
Giorgio Tavecchio has been on the Raiders on and off since 2014. Tavecchio sees some action during the pre-season, and is then cut by the time the regular season rolls around. Tavecchio has been pretty much the only other kicking option for the Raiders these last few seasons. Janikowski has yet to play bad enough for Tavecchio to get the job. It would take a lot of bad kicks for Janikowski to lose it.
Oakland would most likely sign Tavecchio if they got rid of Janikowski. Tavecchio is a lot younger, and a lot cheaper. Also, by this point, his skill set might be closer to Sebastian Janikowski than some Raiders fans might want to admit.
A free agent like Graham Gano might make more sense, but he would require a bigger paycheck than an unproven player like Tavecchio.
Don’t expect the Raiders to cut Janikowski. After this season, it is very possible for the Raiders to move on. Tavecchio would most likely take the place of Janikowski and become the Raiders kicker, at least for a season, to see how good he is. If Tavecchio has another really strong pre-season showing, it could be enough to push for the job as the starting kicker.
Sebastian Janikowski is probably here to stay, for a few more seasons anyway. As a player that has seen some great and not-so great Raiders teams, he has earned the respect of Raider Nation. Janikowski has been through a lot as an Oakland Raider. We will most likely see Janikowski start and finish his career as a Raider. Not bad for a kicker picked in the first round 17 years ago.