Sebastian Janikowski will remain a Raider, but his status for Sunday’s season-opening game remains in doubt.
The 39-year-old Janikowksi – the franchise’s career scoring leader – agreed to a restructured deal Wednesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The Raiders had been seeking a new, less costly deal that would allow the team to use money elsewhere (reportedly on a re-structured deal for left tackle Donald Penn). Rapoport reported Janikowski agreed to a $1 million pay cut for 2017 to stay with the team. Janikowski will take a pay cut for the final season of his contract, but his $3 million for 2017 will now be fully guaranteed.
However, Janikowski has been working through a back problem, and it’s still not certain he’ll be able to kick in Sunday’s game in Tennessee vs. the Titans.
The Raiders brought in three kickers for a workout this week – Josh Lambo, Mike Nugent and Marshall Koehn, reported Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group – in the event the team couldn’t work out a deal with Janikowski or if Janikowski isn’t able to play Sunday.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters Wednesday he hopes Janikowski will be ready to go, but won’t know until Saturday.
“I’m not good about forecasting things,” Del Rio said. “We’ll see how he goes throughout the work week. There was concern early in the week. We’ll need to see how he goes, how he responds. We had some kickers come in here to make sure that we’re prepared in case he’s not able to go, that we’re covered. That’s really it.”
The Raiders-Titans game could be a close one, however, and if Janikowski is absent, it could play a factor in the outcome. Oddsmakers have made the Raiders just one-point favorites. The chemistry between long snapper Jon Condo, holder Marquette King and Janikowski has been solid, and a change in kickers – especially going from a left-footed to right-footed kicker – could produce a missed field goal or extra point. In a tight game, that could prove decisive.
Janikowski missed the final two exhibition games of the summer.
Sunday’s game in Tennessee is set to kick off at 10 a.m. PST.