Sebastian Janikowski is one of just three kickers to ever be drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, However, his lengthy career with the Oakland Raiders could be coming to an end.
In 268 career games, Janikowski has kicked 414 field goals and made 80.4 percent of his career kicks. Known for having one of the strongest legs of all-time, he holds several NFL records, including making more 50-yard field goals than any player ever.
The Los Angeles Chargers will be looking for a kicker this offseason, that much should be obvious. With Janikowski becoming an unrestricted free agent, there could be mutual interest.
Of course, the Raiders could still retain his services, particularly with his former head coach John Gruden back with the team. However, the Raiders got a solid season out of Giorgio Tavecchio after Janikowski was placed on injured reserve just prior to the start of the regular season.
It makes plenty of sense for the Raiders to move forward with the younger, cheaper Tavecchio. But Janikowski can still kick field goals.
The Chargers need a steady hand at that position as the argument can be made that the miscues made by the team’s merry-go-round of kickers last season cost it a playoff spot. It’s actually pretty tough to argue against that.
Tom Telesco will need to place more focus on the kicking position this offseason than a general manager normally does, as most kickers around the league come in as undrafted free agents. That isn’t going to cut it in 2018.
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Janikowski would make sense in Los Angeles. At 39 years old, he still has one of the league’s strongest legs and can still be one of the most accurate kickers. He might come at a higher cost than guys like Nick Rose and Travis Coons did last season, but that would be for good reason.
Before you say that Janikowski is too old for the team to seriously consider, keep in mind that Adam Vinatieri, Phil Dawson and Matt Bryant are all much older and still performing at a high level. If there is one position an NFL player can play well into his 40’s, it would be kicker.
Janikowski could be a huge weapon for the Chargers. He can still make 50-yard field goals on a regular basis and is even a threat from over 60 yards. With an offense as high-powered as the Chargers, they could advance the ball slightly past mid-field on each drive and have a chance at three points.
That wasn’t the case this past season and hasn’t been the case for years.
As soon as the free-agent negotiation process begins, Janikowski should be one of the first guys Telesco is on the phone with. The team could easily get three or four good seasons out of him, which would be worth the cost of bringing him in.