Whatever disappointment Sebastian Janikowski felt by missing the Pro Bowl after a deserving season was pushed into the background after he signed a four-year contract making him the NFL’s highest paid place kicker.
The terms, first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and delayed here while problems were worked out for logging in to the blog software, are the same as punter Shane Lechler received last season _ four years, $16 million, with $9 million guaranteed.
“He is the best kicker in the NFL and the Raiders have recognized that fact by rewarding him with this monstrous contract,” said Paul Healy, the agent for Janikowski. “He loves it in Oakland and wanted to be there. Give Al Davis credit for stepping up an doing what it takes to keep him there.”
No confirmation from the Raiders, who usually wait until the contract is approved by the league before making an announcement.
Actually, the Raiders went ahead and confirmed the signing on their Web site.
A 10-year veteran, Janikowski’s run-ins with the law at Florida State and then with the Raiders, all which involved drinking, have become distant memories.
At a reunion in San Leandro hosted by Jon Gruden in December, Janikowski put in a brief appearance, mingling with some old teammates, drinking ice water with lemon and leaving early the night before a game.
Late in the season, I saw Janikowski headed towards his car in the parking lot, munching on a salad.
When I mentioned it to Lechler, he laughed and said, “he’s in a contract year.’’
While Lechler has been among the elite at his position since his rookie season, Janikowski has yet to make a Pro Bowl and until the last few years it was still up in the air as to whether he was actually worth the first-round draft choice Al Davis spent on him in 2000.
It took until this season for Janikowski, 9-for-10 between 40 and 49 yards, to bring his percentage up to 70 percent for his career in that range.
Tennessee’s Rob Bironas, for example, is 76.8 for his career from 40 to 49. Janikowski is 77.7 percent from that range (21-for-27) in the last four years, distances that are truly money kicks for NFL place kickers.
An elite NFL kicker, or any professional kicker for that matter, should be nearly automatic from 39 yards and in. Percentages normally begin dropping off at the 40-plus range.
From 50-plus, Janikowski is 25-for-51, including 6-for-8 this year, but his percentage suffers from some absurdly long attempts because of his range _ most notably the 76-yard prayer dialed up by Lane Kiffin in his last act as a Raiders head coach.
Next up for the Raiders is Richard Seymour, who can expect the franchise tag if he doesn’t first sign a long-term deal.
I’m expecting the tag rather than the contract.
Considering the $41 million Albert Haynesworth defensive tackle got from Washington last year, and the highest comps at defensive end _ $30 million guaranteed to Dwight Freeney of Indianpapolis and $31 million to Jared Allen _ giving a huge sum of upfront money to Seymour with a potential lockout in 2011 is a risky proposition.
Instead, the Raiders could pay Seymour the franchise figure of $12.398 million (or potentially more if he is an exclusive franchise player), lock him up again in 2011 and then not be on the hook for his salary should there be a work stoppage.
It’s also a legitimate question as to whether Seymour, seeking his last big contract at age 31, played at a level which earned him the kind of money in the Haynesworth-Freeney-Allen realm.
There were times when Seymour looked like what he was in New England _ one of the NFL’s best defensive players and an unblockable force up front. There were other periods where Seymour’s presence did little to prevent Oakland from being among the most porous run defenses in the NFL.
Wisniewski talks with Redskins
Steve Wisniewski, the former Raiders guard who has expressed a desire to return to coaching, has interviewed with the Washington Redskins for a position as an assistant offensive line coach under head coach Mike Shanahan and line coach Chris Foerster.
Wisniewski was a rookie with the Raiders in 1989 when Shanahan was an in-season casualty of Al Davis, replaced by Art Shell. He has spent time in training camp with the Raiders as observer and you wonder if Wisniewski couldn’t conceivably a candidate for the same position in Oakland, given his good standing wit the organization and ties with the community.
Meanwhile, Washington has hired Paul Kelly, a former coaches’ assistant to Jon Gruden in Oakland and Tampa Bay and to Bill Callahan in Oakland, as the administrative assistant for Shanahan.