Grading Raiders 2013 off-season moves: Specialists

Levi Damien

The offense and defense has been graded so it is time to give the moves on Special Teams its grade.

For the past 13 years, the Raiders have had the best kicker and punter combination in the NFL - Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler. For the past six years, they have also had a steady hand at long snapper - Jon Condo. The overall performance of this group has depended a lot upon the return and coverage teams.

Each year the Raiders return and coverage teams seem to go from one of the best to one of the worst like the changing of the winds. Lately it has been horrendous. But a couple years ago, Jacoby Ford and company were tearing it up.

Playing a big part in the special teams failings last season was the injury to Jacoby Ford and the losses of players like Rock Cartwright and Hiram Eugene. This unit needs an upgrade

Departures

P Shane Lechler - The Raiders saw this coming a long time ago. The prepared for Lechler's departure by keeping Marquette King on injured reserve last season. Lechler got to go home to play for the Texans where he had wanted to return for many years. He got a pretty cheap contract but it would have taken a lot more to get him to stay. He is statistically the greatest punter in NFL history and the Raiders will miss him.

ST Coordinator Steve Hoffman - One of the biggest mistakes this new coaching staff made was hiring a Special Teams Coordinator whose specialty was working with kickers and punters. This team did not need help with their kicker or punter. Those two were the least of their worries. What they needed was a guy who understood blocking and coverage schemes. He failed miserably in that arena. Heck, even Shane Lechler had the worst season of his career.

Unsigned Free Agents: None

Additions

ST Coordinator Bobby April - The Eagles fired their entire staff along with two-time Special Teams Coordinator of the year, Bobby April. The Eagles Special Teams were bad last year but April's reputation is that of one of the best in the business. He should get the most of these players. That is, if he is given players whose "most" is enough.

Re-signed Free Agents: RFA Phillip Adams, ERFA Coye Francies

Breakdown: No player additions here, however Jacoby Ford will return as kick returner after being out all last season with injury, Marquette King has been the plan at punter all season, and Pro Bowlers Sebastian Janikowski and Jon Condo have their positions locked up. Still, losing statistically the greatest punter of all time makes for an impossible upgrade, there's no guarantee King will live up to his potential, and the team is still desperate for a solid punt returner.

Specialists grade: B-

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