Tampa Bay Sports Day

The Golden Toe

Love hate relationships correlate with NFL Placekickers. Make or miss, they never know if they are going to be kissed or killed.

In the Oakland Raiders case, they decided to form a marriage with kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Instead of an extravagant ring Janikowski received a hefty four-year, $16 million contract with $9 million guaranteed making him the richest kicker in NFL history.

Janikowski was the best available placekicker on the free-agent market. Other top free-agent kickers without a home are Cincinnati’s Shayne Graham, New York Jets’ Jay Feely, Arizona‘s Neil Rackers, and Pittsburgh‘s Jeff Reed.

Since he was drafted number one out of Florida State in 2000, he hasn’t disappointed during his 10 years in the Bay Area. He was the first special teams specialist in 21 years to be drafted in the first round.

The Polish left footed kicker has scored 1,000 points in his NFL Career. He has nailed 78.4 percent of his field goal attempts (229 of 292) and made 99% percent of his extra-points (313 of 316).

Sebastian’s had his best campaign in 2009. He racked up 95 points, made 26 of 29 field goals, only misfiring 3 times from 45, 57 and 66 yards. His leg has shown the durability to handle the gridiron mileage with 6 kicks converted from at least 50 yards out. His 61-yarder was the fourth longest in NFL history.

His 17 touchbacks on 58 kickoffs was the sixth-best in the NFL last season.

At first Al Davis didn’t see Janikowski as a game-changing kicker. As a rookie he misfired on 10 field goals and hit on 76 percent of his tries the first three seasons. But He has shown better consistency the past two seasons with 41 of 44 kicks inside 50 yards. He became the all-time leading scorer in team history in 2008.

The Raiders have taken care of their most coveted free agents of late. They rewarded Pro Bowl Punter Shane Lechler, star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugba, and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly with record contracts. The book is still open on defensive lineman Richard Seymour who Oakland acquired from New England for a 2011 first-round draft pick.

It’s closed in the kicking department. If they are ever to become competitive again they don’t have a lucrative leg  to blame their misfortunes on.