Eighteen years after the Raiders made kicker Sebastian Janikowski a surprise first-round draft pick Jason Spriggs Jersey , his career in Oakland has come to an end.
The team told Janikowski this week that he won’t be brought back when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next month.
”The Raider Nation salutes Sebastian Janikowski as the sun sets on his illustrious career with the Oakland Raiders,” owner Mark Davis said in a statement Thursday. ”He joined the team as a surprise first-round pick in the 2000 Draft and finishes his time in Oakland as one of the greatest or perhaps the greatest kicker in pro football history. His powerful left leg produced an NFL-record 55 field goals of 50-or-more yards. The motto `Once a Raider, Always a Raider’ has never been more true as his 18-year career makes him the longest-tenured player in Raiders history.”
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Davis’ father, Al, made the stunning decision in 2000 to take Janikowski with the 17th overall pick. The only other kicker taken in the first round since the start of the common draft era in 1967 was Steve Little, who went 15th to the Cardinals in 1978.
Janikowski’s successful career made him the Raiders all-time leader in games played (268) and points scored (1,799). His 55 field goals from at least 50 yards are the most in NFL history. The only other player from the 2000 draft still on his original team is Tom Brady, who was picked 199th by New England.
Janikowski, who turns 40 on March 2, missed all of last season with a back injury. His agent, Paul Healy, said in an email that Janikowski is too young to retire.
Janikowski said last spring that he hoped to still be with the Raiders when the team moved to Las Vegas in 2020. But that didn’t happen after the back injury sidelined him before the start of last season and Giorgio Tavecchio took over as kicker.
There was some thought that new coach Jon Gruden might give Janikowski another chance since he was Oakland’s coach when Janikowski was drafted and for his first two seasons. Janikowski is one of five players who were on NFL rosters last season who have played at least one game for Gruden, joining punter Shane Lechler, kicker Matt Bryant, cornerback Aqib Talib and Raiders left tackle Donald Penn.
Janikowski’s departure leaves long snapper Jon Condo as the only player on the Raiders with the team before Al Davis died in October 2011. Condo is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent next month and his long-term status with the franchise is unknown.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan felt the organization ”lacked football IQ” in previous years.
So Khan hired two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin to handle all football-related decisions.
With Coughlin calling the shots, the Jaguars (10-6) made the postseason for the first time since 2007 and will host a playoff game for the first time since January 2000.
”It’s a structure that’s been unsuccessful in the past, but for me, what I felt we lacked was football IQ,” Khan said Thursday, three days before Jacksonville hosts Buffalo (9-7) in an AFC wild-card game. ”And you can’t just say Corey Linsley Jersey , `Let me go to craigslist or Backpage.com and get some football IQ.’ You want somebody who really it’s not just a job, it’s a passion, emotion and a drive. Nobody really personifies that better than Tom Coughlin.”
Khan wasn’t sure how the front-office dynamic would work with Coughlin and new coach Doug Marrone joining carry-over general manager Dave Caldwell.
Coughlin and Marrone changed the culture almost overnight and improved the roster by signing the best free-agent class in franchise history.
”The norm is these things don’t work,” Khan said. ”The short answer is: How do you get people together who are going to pull toward one goal, which is winning, and not be focused on, `Hey, is this right? Who gets the credit? Who gets the blame?’ This was the one time for us to really get that right.”
The Jaguars appear headed in the right direction, with a young and talented roster that appears built to be competitive for several years.
”I think it turned out better than probably, certainly, I thought it would,” Khan said. ”And really the credit is to (Coughlin). I can tell you he never asked for the 53-man roster. It was my idea, `Tom, that means nothing changed. It’s maybe not good for Dave’s ego, but there has to be somebody in charge, and it needs to be you.'”
The biggest question entering the season was about quarterback Blake Bortles.
Jacksonville picked up the fifth-year option in his rookie deal, a decision that seemingly will keep Bortles under contract another year. He’s due to make $19 million in 2018.
The Jags made the move in May, after passing on available quarterbacks in free agency and in the draft.
”Maybe we’re not the biggest idiot on the football block,” Khan said. ”When his option was picked up, it was like David Bakhtiari Jersey , `What are these guys smoking?’ You’ve got to stay the course, but yet you have to have the agility and the flexibility. You have to have both.
”The other thing with Blake is he’s really a nice guy. … He’s from the area, he’s a nice guy, he’s talented, he’s stayed healthy. He’s not a China doll. We are invested. We want him to be successful.”
Bortles completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 3,687 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His passer rating was up and his turnovers were down, and he did it without star receiver Allen Robinson. Bortles also had a running game that stalled late in the season and two rookie receivers playing in place of Robinson and Allen Hurns.
He said he managed to avoid thinking about the future by focusing on football.
”My goal is to play football in Jacksonville for as long as they let me, and in order to do that, we have to win football games,” Bortles said this week.
The biggest one in a decade comes Sunday at EverBank Field.
The Jaguars sold every ticket available with ease and even got permission from the NFL to remove tarps covering four sections in the upper deck to satisfy part of the demand.
”If one thing we have proven, it’s fans matter,” Khan said. ”They matter for us. We want them in the seats. … We want them showing up. We need the energy. If the Seattle and Houston games are example, it should be a notch up and it would be certainly (be) an incredible experience.”
Khan also said the Buffalo-Jacksonville game is the most expensive wild-card ticket on the secondary market. He said he saw Tennessee-Kansas City tickets available for $38, about $150 less than those for sale to see the Bills and Jaguars do something they haven’t done since 1999.
Buffalo in the playoffs for the first time since then and Jacksonville is hosting a playoff game for the first time since that same season.
”Could you imagine the hottest ticket in football is right here, selling for five, six times face value?” Khan said. ”Could you believe that happening in freaking Jacksonville?”