Sebastian Janikowski

This Date In Transactions History: Raiders Release Sebastian Janikowski

Three years ago today, Sebastian Janikowski‘s 18-year Raiders run came to an end. The kicker was out-of-contract but, this time around, the Raiders informed him that he would not be re-signed. 

Janikowski’s Raiders tenure was nearly capped one year earlier. In 2017, he initially rebuffed the team’s request for a pay cut — he later caved to keep his place on the roster. Unfortunately, a preseason back injury would sideline him for the rest of the entire season.

Seabass was synonymous with the organization. After being selected in the first round of the 2000 draft, Janikowski appeared in 268 games for the Raiders, a franchise high. And, before 2017, he had only missed a total of four games throughout his career.

Despite his long-running history with team, the Raiders had concerns about his age and possible decline. In 2016, Janikowski sank 82.9% of his field goals and 37-of-39 extra point attempts. He has not cleared the 83% mark on field goals since 2014. At this time, he was on the cusp of his 40th birthday. It’s possible that the Raiders would have cut him in ’17, if it weren’t for the bad PR that would have come along with it. After announcing the move to Las Vegas, losing Janikowski would have made things especially ugly in Oakland.

With Janikowski out of the picture, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was left as the only player from the 2000 Draft to remain with his original team. The kicker moved on to the Seahawks, unseated Jason Myers, and made 81.5% of his regular season kicks. His final play would come in the Wild Card game against the Cowboys — Janikowski missed a 57-yard field goal and suffered a hamstring injury. In April of 2019, Janikowski announced his retirement, capping his NFL career after 19 seasons.

Sebastian Janikowski Announces Retirement

Longtime NFL kicker Sebastian Janikowski has announced his retirement after 19 seasons, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Janikowski, 41, was selected 17th overall by the Raiders in the 2000 draft and spent the subsequent 18 campaigns in Oakland. Only one other kicker (Steve Little in 1978) has ever been chosen in the first round of the draft, and only three kickers have been selected in the first three rounds since Janinkowski went in the first (Nate Kaeding, Mike Nugent, Roberto Aguayo).

Clearly, it would have been difficult for any kicker to live up to Janikowski’s draft billing, but he did accrue statistics simply by being available. He’ll finish his career with the ninth-most field goal attempts (563) in league history, although his conversion rate (80.4%) ranks just 37th. Pro Football Reference’s approximate value metric, which attempts to boil down a player’s contributions to a single number, ranks Janikowski as the 13th-most valuable kicker in NFL history.

A Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro member in 2011, Janikowski left the Raiders in 2018, signing a contract with the Seahwaks after spending the previous season on injured reserve. He made 22-of-27 attempts for Seattle, and his 81.5% conversion rate ranked just 23rd among all kickers. Janikowski wasn’t expected to be re-signed by the Seahawks, who have since added free agent Jason Myers.

Janikowksi will hang up his cleats as the NFL’s all-time highest-paid kicker with more than $53MM in career earnings. PFR extends its best wishes to “Seabass” as he enters retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Packers, Smith, Seahawks, Janikowski, Chris Long, Eagles

The Packers have made their latest addition to Matt LaFleur’s staff, hiring Mike Smith to coach their outside linebackers, the team announced in a tweet. No, it’s not former Falcons head coach and Buccaneers defensive coordinator, but a different Mike Smith. Smith was drafted by the Ravens back in 2005, and spent three-plus seasons in the league with Baltimore. He started as a coaching intern with the Jets in 2010, and has steadily moved his way up the ranks.

He was on Andy Reid’s staff in Kansas City for the past three seasons, where he served as assistant defensive line coach and then outside linebackers coach. When the Chiefs fired longtime defensive coordinator Bob Sutton earlier this week and hired Steve Spagnuolo, it meant Smith was unlikely to be retained. Smith coached under current Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in New York, so the reunion makes sense.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Sebastian Janikowski‘s season ended on a low note, as he was injured and unable to kick in the second half of the Seahawks’ Wild Card round playoff loss. That might’ve been his last game as a Seahawk, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times expects Seattle to move on from the impending free agent this offseason. Janikowski is soon to be 41, and his play has clearly declined from his peak, but teams could be interested assuming the Seahawks let him walk. As Condotta notes, the team recently signed former Rams kicker Sam Ficken to a reserve/futures contract, and they could add more competition through the draft or free agency.
  • Eagles defensive end Chris Long has flirted with retirement in the past, but he wants to keep playing, according to Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I’d like to play football in 2019. I thought I had a strong year and felt good physically. Listen, I know I’m an older guy. But, you know, I don’t think I’ve missed a practice over the last two years. I feel like I’ve been durable and ready when called upon”, Long told a Philly radio station. He did leave the door open for a possible retirement still, saying he still “could go either way”, depending on “what the Eagles do and who they bring in or don’t bring in and how deep that room gets.” Long had 6.5 sacks this season, his highest total since 2013.
  • In case you missed it, things are progressing toward an extension for Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh.

Seahawks Release K Jason Myers

The Seahawks released kicker Jason Myers, according to a team announcement. The move signals that Sebastian Janikowski has won the club’s kicking competition.

Myers was with the Jaguars from 2015 through the first six games of the 2017 season. He was released after missing three pivotal field goals, though they were all from 52 yards or longer. All in all, he connected on 64-of-79 field goal attempts (81%) and 76-of-88 extra points (86.4%) in 38 games with the Jags.

Myers inked a futures deal with the Seahawks in January and was pushing to take over for Blair Walsh‘s post. Months later, the Seahawks inked Sebastian Janikowski to a one-year deal, putting the 40-year-old in the catbird seat.

In related moves, the Seahawks signed cornerback Elijah Battle and wide receiver Marvin Bracy to the 90-man roster.

NFC Notes: Giants, Beckham, Manning, Seahawks, Janikowski, Lions, Sherman

While Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants reportedly aren’t close on an extension, it still seems like a deal will get done at some point. The team has repeatedly made it clear they don’t plan on letting their franchise player hit the open market. But whenever they do lock up Beckham, it could have a ripple effect on the team’s finances and roster, opines Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com.

Dunleavy notes that if Beckham gets the $17MM+ per year he’s looking for, it would put the Giants in rare territory. It would make the Giants one of only two teams in the league to have three players with a cap hit above $17MM, with the other being the Broncos. Eli Manning will have a cap hit of $22.2MM in 2018, while Olivier Vernon will have a $17MM cap hit. Dunleavy thinks committing so much cap space to just a couple of players could cause the Giants to look to move on from Manning sooner than they would otherwise.

Because of Manning’s importance to the franchise, Dunleavy writes the team’s handling of him is like “handling a grenade”, one that “went off in their hands last season” when they briefly tried benching Manning for Geno Smith. Dunleavy thinks that “if Manning struggles in 2018, it makes economic sense for the Giants to move on because Beckham’s inflated salary cap hit essentially could take the place of Manning’s atop the chart.” Whatever happens, it seems possible that Beckham’s looming mega-extension could mean the beginning of the end for the Manning-era in New York.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

Seahawks Sign K Sebastian Janikowski

Seabass in Seattle. On Friday, the Seahawks formally signed kicker Sebastian Janikowski. It’s a one-year deal, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

Janikowski, 40, was let go by the Raiders in February as they elected to move forward with Giorgio Tavecchio. He left Oakland as one of the most well-known figures in franchise history – and also with a chip on his shoulder. Janikowski took his first visit with the rival Chargers before huddling up with the Seahawks this week.

Janikowski set Raiders records with 268 regular season games played and 1,799 points scored. Meanwhile, he has the most field goals from 50+ yards in NFL history with 55. Janikowski did not see the field in 2017 thanks to a back injury, but his agent says that he is now healthy and ready to get back to his old form.

The team’s press release indicates that Janikowski will not simply be handed the top job. Jason Myers signed a reserve/futures contract with the Seahawks earlier this offseason and the two will be “competing for” the gig, per the Seahawks’ website. The Seahawks are hoping that either Janikowski or Myers will provide them with a stable leg following Blair Walsh’€˜s struggles in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sebastian Janikowski To Visit Seahawks

The Seahawks are set to meet with an acclaimed kicker, and Sebastian Janikowski may have a taker for what would be his age-40 season.

Janikowski will make a Tuesday trip to Seattle to visit the Seahawks, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

This represents Janikowski’s second visit of the offseason. Both have been on the west coast, with the 40-year-old kicker meeting with Chargers brass last month. The Raiders opted against re-signing Janikowski, having pivoted to Giorgio Tavecchio. The Seahawks aren’t as stable at this position.

Jason Myers signed a reserve/futures contract with the Seahawks. Seattle experienced difficulties last season, with Blair Walsh‘s struggles continuing. Myers is now the incumbent, despite having not yet kicked for the Hawks in a game.

Janikowski was not a much-rumored player from 2000-2016, kicking for the Raiders for 17 straight seasons, but he accepted a pay cut last offseason and then suffered an injury that ended his bid for an 18th season as Oakland’s kicker. The Raiders did not pull Janikowski off IR, instead letting Tavecchio take his place, and he’s now looking for another opportunity.

Sebastian Janikowski To Meet With Chargers

Former Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski is expected to visit the Chargers, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Raiders opted against re-signing Janikowski, leaving him to explore the open market.

Janikowski, who turns 40 on March 2, will leave the Raiders as one of the most well-known figures in franchise history. He also has his place in the record books with franchise records of 268 regular season games played and 1,799 points scored. Meanwhile, he has the most field goals from 50+ yards in NFL history with 55.

Los Angeles ranked 31st in special teams DVOA a season ago, and was (by far) the worst kicking team in the league. Not only did the Chargers give up 22.2 points of field position through their paltry field goal/extra point attempts, but the club’s first two losses of the season were direct results of poor kicking efforts.

The Chargers used four different kickers in 2017, and while they may have interest in re-signing at least one (Nick Novak), Janikownski could take precedence.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Sebastian Janikowski To Continue Playing

Sebastian Janikowski is done with the Raiders, but he’s not done playing. The kicker’s agent says he’ll try to catch on with another team after learning that the Raiders will not be bringing him back for 2018. Sebastian Janikowski (Vertical)

He plans on getting another job,” agent Paul Healy tells Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Unfortunately, he had this back issue. He’s healthy now, and he’s ready to go.

Janikowski, who turns 40 on March 2, will leave the Raiders as one of the most well-known figures in franchise history. He also has his place in the record books with franchise records of 268 regular season games played and 1,799 points scored. Meanwhile, he has the most field goals from 50+ yards in NFL history with 55.

Janikowski did not see the field in 2017 thanks to a back injury, but his rep says that won’t be an issue for him going forward. You can expect Seabass to draw interest from teams in need of a reliable leg (the Seahawks, perhaps?) this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.