Kicker Sebastian Janikowski not coming back for Raiders

Updated February 14, 2018 - 7:06 pm

OAKLAND, Calif. — The end of the Sebastian Janikowski Era was foretold months ago.

Officially on Wednesday, he was told.

The Raiders notified their all-time games and points leader that he’s not part of their plans for 2018, his agent, Paul Healy, confirmed. Janikowski still remains on the roster, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 14. ESPN first reported the conversation between the Raiders and Janikowski.

Janikowski, who turns 40 on March 2, said he’s not done yet.

“He plans on getting another job,” Healy said in a phone interview. “Unfortunately, he had this back issue. He’s healthy now, and he’s ready to go.”

Jon Gruden, rehired last month, was entering his third season as Raiders coach in 2000 when then-owner Al Davis made Janikowski the fourth kicker in NFL history to be drafted in the first round. No specialist has been selected there since.

Anchored by a thundering left leg, a storied career followed.

Janikowski converted 80.3 percent of field goals (414 of 515 attempts). With 55, he owns the NFL record for most field goals of 50 or more yards, reaching the total on 100 attempts. His 268 regular-season games played and 1,799 points scored are franchise records. Those marks rank 23rd and 11th in club history.

But the back injury forced Janikowski to miss last season. The club technically could have activated him from injured reserve during the season, but that proved not to be feasible. Then-coach Jack Del Rio said Janikowski’s back still ailed him.

There also was the matter of Janikowski’s successor.

Giorgio Tavecchio, 27, represented an upgrade at kickoffs in this stage of Janikowski’s career — the power of the Poland native was unmatched in his earlier years. Tavecchio also had an efficient start, converting all nine field goals in his first six games. In Week 1, he became the first player in NFL history to make multiple field goals of 50 or more yards in his debut, hitting two from 52 yards in a 26-16 win over the Tennessee Titans.

Tavecchio did not finish 2018 as strong, making seven of 12 tries in the final 10 games. That relative inefficiency lacks some context. It includes, for example, his first miss, a blocked 53-yard field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7.

The Raiders are expected to place a one-year tender on Tavecchio as an exclusive rights free agent. They also might add a second leg to compete during training camp. Such a player probably will be left-footed to facilitate operations with holder Marquette King.

Looking back, Janikowski “couldn’t ask for a better experience (with the Raiders),” Healy said.

He soon can explore a new one elsewhere. Impending free agents can enter contract negotiations with other teams beginning March 12.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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