Janikowski’s huge new deal

The Raiders have again rewarded a player with the most lucrative contract at his position. At this time last year, they signed punter Shane Lechler to a four-year, $16-million deal that made him the league's highest-paid punter. They also did a stunning contract with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha that not only made him the highest-paid player at one of the highest-paid positions in football, it also gave him a fully guaranteed deal of more than $45 million for three years, a truly shocking football contract.

Now ESPN reports that the Raiders have rewarded kicker Sebastian Janikowski, whose five-year contract was due to expire next week, with a staggering contract (for a kicker) worth $16M over four years, with a jaw-dropping $9M guaranteed. It’s good to be a productive player on the Raiders with an expiring contract.

Janikowski, a true unrestricted free agent (UFA) with more than six years in the league, was clearly headed toward a franchise tag, a number of only $2.8M for 2010. The Raiders could have had him at that price in 2010 and then franchised him again in 2011 (assuming there’s football) for 120 percent of that number. After two years of franchise tags, they would have had to place the league-high tender on him, a number probably over $20M, which they never would have done. But for two years, at least, they could have retained his services for around $6M.

Instead, they have jumped the market and given him 50 percent more than that number in a guarantee alone. And with a kicker's age not being an issue, especially if he joins a dome team in four years, he will have another bite at the free-agency apple in 2014 at age 36, a few years younger than some kickers who played in the NFL this year.

Why would the Raiders do this? Certainly they feel Janikowski is the top kicker in the league and eclipsed the previous high-water mark for kickers when the Titans gave Rob Bironas a four-year deal for $12M, staving off a franchise tag of $2.48M a year ago. Now, with the franchise tender having gone up barely more than $300,000, the Raiders have made Janikowski the highest-paid kicker by a significant margin. Simply, they wanted the player long-term, perhaps saving their franchise tag for Richard Seymour.

As many agents have told me, the words they long to hear on the phone at this time of year are, "Please hold for Mr. Davis."

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