Raiders sign Janikowski to extension
NAPA, Calif. (AP)
Janikowski is coming off the best season of his career. He converted a career-best 91.2 percent (31 of 34) of his field goal attempts in 2012. The only misses came from 51, 61 and 64 yards.
"Where else would I go?" Janikowski said. "I love California, I love being here and I see the changes. I think we're moving in the right direction. People are going to be surprised this year what we can do."
The 17th overall pick in 2000, Janikowski has led the Raiders in scoring in each of his 13 seasons while cementing his reputation as one of the most powerful kickers in the game.
He's also been one of the few consistent bright spots for a franchise that hasn't had a winning record in more than a decade.
The 35-year-old kicker has made 42 field goals from 50 yards or longer and needs only 11 more to break Jason Hanson's NFL record of 52. He is tied with former Seattle kicker John Kasay for second on the list.
Janikowski already owns multiple league records, including a share of the mark for the longest field goal made at 63 yards. He also has made one from 61 yards, giving him two of the top three longest field goals in league history.
Still, the decision to give Janikowski an extension before the regular season begins was slightly surprising. Oakland opted not to re-sign perennial Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler in the offseason, breaking up one of the top kicking tandems in the NFL. Lechler, drafted in the same season as Janikowski, signed with the Houston Texans.
Not long after that, Janikowski told reporters he wanted to remain with the Raiders for his entire career. Now he gets that chance.
"That was the goal," Janikowski said. "I love it being here and I want to finish here. When (general manager Reggie McKenzie) came in, they called me in the offseason and they said they wanted to get something done. I'm glad it's done."
The decision to give Janikowski an extension comes as the Raiders have made numerous changes to their kicking and return units.
Besides letting Lechler walk, Oakland signed return specialist Josh Cribbs and hired veteran special teams coach Bobby April.
Then again, Janikowski has grown accustomed to change. Since he became just the fifth kicker in history to be chosen in the first round, the Raiders have gone through eight difference head coaches and seven different special teams coaches.
Janikowski and 2009 defensive player of the year Charles Woodson are the only remaining links to the team's last playoff appearance in 2002. Woodson returned to Oakland as a free agent after spending the last five seasons in Green Bay.
"It's job security," Janikowski said of his new deal. "It's not in the back of your head about what they're going to do because of what happened with Shane. I can just worry about kicking and winning some games."
Notes: Woodson made a diving interception off a tipped pass from quarterback Matt Flynn during the morning scrimmage. ... DT Myles Wade, signed on Wednesday, was unable to finish practice due to an undisclosed injury. ... First-round draft pick D.J. Hayden continues to wear a protective red jersey and is not taking part in full contact drills.