Raiders put kicker Sebastian Janikowski on injured reserve

ByPaul Gutierrez ESPN logo
Saturday, September 9, 2017

NASHVILLE -- The Oakland Raiders have placed kicker Sebastian Janikowski on injured reserve, the team announced Saturday, putting the future of the franchise's all-time leading scorer in question.

Janikowski, who had been listed on the team's injury report with a back issue and traveled to Tennessee with Oakland for its season opener against the Titans, is entering the final year of a contract he restructured this week. And unless he took a paycut without another year added onto his deal, he may have kicked his last football for Oakland.

Per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Janikowski lowered his base salary from $4.05 million this season to $3 million fully guaranteed.

The Raiders signed Giorgio Tavecchio, who spent the previous four training camps with Oakland, to the practice squad on Friday before elevating him to the active roster Saturday.

Tavecchio converted 9 of 11 field goal attempts over four preseasons with the Raiders, though he missed an extra point attempt during a preseason game at Dallas.

Janikowski, meanwhile, is the longest-tenured player on the Raiders roster, a first-round pick in 2000 by Al Davis, when then-coach Jon Gruden favored either receiver Sylvester Morris or running back Shaun Alexander at No. 17 overall. Only three players from that 2000 draft are still in the league -- Janikowski, Houston Texans punter Shane Lechler(who was a Raiders draft classmate of Janikowski) and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

"Thank God for Raiders fans they listened to Al Davis and not me," Gruden laughed later in a radio interview. "I'll say he was right."

The Raiders brought in three kickers for a workout this week in Mike Nugent, Josh Lambo and Marshall Koehn after Janikowski did not play in the Raiders' third or fourth preseason games, and Schefter reported Janikowski and the Raiders were at a contract impasse.

Janikowski, who converted 82.9 percent of his kicks last season, has made 80.4 percent of his career field goal attempts and 98.9 percent of his extra point attempts.

His 1,799 points are the 10th most in NFL history, and his 268 games and 17 seasons played are Raiders records. His 63-yard field goal at Denver in 2011 tied the record for longest in league history at the time, while his 55 field foals of at least 50 yards are an NFL record.

On IR, Janikowski could potentially return to the Raiders after Week 8, though Oakland also has second-round pick Obi Melifonwu, a badly needed safety, and offensive lineman Denver Kirkland on IR and teams can bring back only two players from the list.

Janikowski, 39, has missed only four games in his career, two as a rookie, one in 2001 and another in 2011. But the only action he missed six years ago due to a hamstring issue was the opening kickoff -- Dave Rayner handled the duty -- as the Raiders were shut out that day by the Kansas City Chiefs28-0.

In June minicamp, Janikowski said he "hopes" to still be kicking for the Raiders when they move to Las Vegas by 2020.

"I mean, that's my goal," he said at the time.

Asked how long he wanted to kick for the Raiders, Janikowski did not blink.

"Until they kick me out," he said.