Sebastian Janikowski has spent so much time as the Oakland Raiders kicker, Jon Gruden drafted him … the first time Gruden coached the Raiders.
Gruden has returned to the Raiders, but Janikowski won’t in 2018. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the team informed Janikowski he won’t be back with the team. That’s not surprising, considering Janikowski will be 40 years old next season and spent all last season on injured reserve. But it does end an 18-year Raiders career. Janikowski is the Raiders’ all-time leading scorer.
Janikowski almost didn’t make the Raiders’ roster last season, but agreed to a pay cut. Then he was placed on injured reserve with a back injury before kicking in a game. His replacement Giorgio Tavecchio was solid, hitting 16-of-21 field goals last season. He’s cheaper, younger and has no injury concerns, so it seemed clear Janikowski’s time as a Raider would be ending.
An enduring piece of Janikowski’s legacy will be that he was drafted in the first round. He is the last kicker to be taken in the first round, and that might last for a while (especially after 2016 second-round pick Roberto Aguayo bombed spectacularly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). It’s rare for kickers to go in the first few rounds, although Janikowski had a long and productive career. He was known for his long-distance kicks, including 55 50-yard field goals and tying a since-broken NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in 2011.
Since there are a few teams that always seem to struggle to find a reliable kicker, Janikowski continuing to play can’t be ruled out. But he’ll forever be known as a Raider, and that era is over.
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