Just when things are quiet throughout the NFL, the Crypt Keeper himself, Raiders owner Al Davis, continues his march towards the “Worst Modern Era Owner” title with the re-signing of kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Keeping Janikowski is not a bad move. He is a good kicker with a big leg, and is coming off his best season in terms of field goal percentage (89.7%). However, the contract that he received, as a KICKER, is ridiculous. Couple that with the money the Raiders tied up with their punter, Shane Lechler, and it makes the contract ludicrous (which any Space Balls fan knows is above ridiculous).
Janikowski received a 4-year, $16 million contract with $9 million guaranteed, which is identical to what they gave Lechler. That means that the Raiders will have $8 million/year tied up in kickers, which is nothing to scoff at when the cap eventually returns. Now on the surface, one could say, Who cares? It’s the Raiders! However, what Davis does and owners like him (Dan Snyder) do, is throw the market out of whack with these big contracts, making it harder for teams to reach fair and reasonable deals with their own players. This contract could directly affect the Patriots, if Stephen Gostkowski wants it to. Gostkowski is a restricted free agent, and I’m sure the Patriots would prefer to lock him up long term than simply have him signed one year under the restricted tender. Gostkowski has a Pro Bowl on his resume and has a better career field goal percentage than Janikowski (85.1% to 78.4%). It will be interesting to see if Gostkowski wants to go the route of comparing a potential long-term deal to what “kickers are getting on the current open market.”
It doesn’t stop there. Who can forget the contract Dan Snyder allowed Albert Haynesworth to get last season? Haynesworth signed a 7-year, $100 million deal with $41 million in guarantees, the highest guarantee mark in NFL history. Don’t think for one second that Vince Wilfork hasn’t looked at that deal. Now, I would hope that he has the sense to realize that Haynesworth’s deal was a little ridiculous, but regardless, it still drove up the market value on defensive tackles. Speaking of defensive tackles, Al Davis made another foolish splash prior to the Haynesworth deal which likely drove up Albert’s asking price. In 2008, Davis gave defensive-end-turned-defensive-tackle Tommy Kelly a 7-year, $50.5 million deal. Kelly was a defensive end who was transitioning to tackle and recovering from ACL surgery. He was good but not worthy of what was, at the time, the highest contract ever given to a defensive tackle. Perhaps some of the owners should look at themselves in the mirror before they complain about rising player costs.
There are plenty of examples to continue on, but I think you get the point. All it takes is one owner to give a player a huge, out-of-whack contract to throw the rest of the free agent market off its kilter. Now, other teams that try to be fiscally responsible are forced to pay the price or lose their core players. Hopefully the new CBA gets the market back into balance, starting with a rookie salary cap, so the JaMarcus Russel’s of the past don’t continue into the future, furthering hampering teams’ abilities to sign proven vets.