For now at least, Giorgio Tavecchio is the Raiders’ place-kicker.
With longtime Raiders standout Sebastian Janikowski cut loose earlier this offseason, Tavecchio, who took over for the injured Janikowski in 2017 and played his first NFL season with Oakland, is the man to beat.
But the Raiders have signed former Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro to compete for the job, and Pineiro certainly seems to have more upside than Tavecchio, who had an up-and-down rookie season, making 16-of-21 field-goal tries (76.2 percent).
At Florida, the 6-foot-, 185-pound Pineiro in 2017 was a third-team All-America pick, leading major-college football with a 94.4 percent accuracy rate by making 17-of-18 field-goal attempts. Five of those makes were from 50 or more yards. He also made 91 percent of all field-goal attempts from 40 or more yards during his career and holds the Florida career record for field-goal accuracy at 88.4 percent.
And, as a plus, he was a teammate of just-drafted punter Johnny Townsend, who was his holder with the Gators, so their chemistry as rookies would be seamless.
Pineiro also has a big leg on kickoffs, putting 75 percent of his kicks at Florida deep enough for touchbacks.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said they’d had their eyes on Pineiro.
“He’s got a good leg,” Gruden told the San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s interesting. We thought about drafting him, honestly. And we’re happy to have him as a free agent.”
Gruden cited a strong year from Tavecchio as a rookie, but said it will be a duel to win the job for 2018.
“Our incumbent kicker has had a heck of a start, too,” Gruden told the Chronicle. “We want competition just like every coach wants in training camp. I think we have at least accomplished that.”