It would appear at this point that the idea that the Raiders were trying to muscle Sebastian Janikowski out of his base salary in the final year of his contract may not have much substance to it.
The team worked out three kickers over the weekend. Once those reports came out, the ONLY sense I could make of it was that perhaps Sebastian Janikowski was dealing with an injury issue. Then the reports from ESPN’s Adam Schefter came out saying the Raiders were trying to get Janikowski to rework his contract and if he wasn’t game for it, they could cut him and sign one of the kickers they worked out.
Those reports by Schefter were soon followed up by Ian Rapoport saying it was a situation where the team was concerned about Janikowski back, going as far as to say he looked ‘awful’ this week.
#Raiders worked out three kickers today, as K Sebastian Janikowski’s back continues to give him issues. Source said he looked “awful” today.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 5, 2017
#Raiders are concerned about Sebastian Janikowski’s back, with his age. He’s been slow to bounce back. Josh Lambo stood out among tryouts— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 5, 2017
Del Rio said essentially Wednesday that the Raiders working out the kickers was about the injury concerns.
“I’m not good about forecasting things,” Del Rio said of Janikowski’s status. “We’ll see how he goes through the work week. There was some concern early in the week that we’ll need to see how he does, how he responds. We had some kickers come in here to make sure that we’re prepared in the case that he’s not able to go that we’re covered. That’s really it. I think it kind of took on a life of its own with a lot of people reporting and speculating, but we’re just doing our due diligence. We’ll see how the week goes.”
Keep in mind, there is still a possibility there was some truth to the reports the Raiders were asking him to rework his deal and he has refused. And as Rapoport pointed out, it could very well be due to concerns over how his back is going to hold up this season. That would suggest the conversation was likely about reworking his deal into playtime incentives as they did with Lee Smith this offseason.
Tuesday Janikowski’s salary for week one kicked in. The team will have until Saturday to make a final a decision on Janikowski’s contract for the season. That’s when the rest of the $4.05 million becomes guaranteed.
He is practicing today according to media present, which is a good sign.