Oakland Raiders Free Agency: Examining the Roster, One Week Later

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October 6, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski (11) kicks a point-after-touchdown out of the hold by punter Marquette King (7) against the San Diego Chargers during the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

9. Special Teams

Players let go or released: none

Players signed: Giorgio Tavecchio, Steven Clark

Incumbents: Sebastian Janikowski, Marquette King, Jon Condo, Taiwan Jones

Probable starters: Sebastian Janikowski, Marquette King, Jon Condo, Taiwan Jones

Sebastian Janikowski, the longest-tenured Raider by far, is one of two Raiders on the roster who was a part of the 2002 team that lost Super Bowl XXXVIII – along with Charles Woodson. While he struggled with his consistency in 2013 while adjusting to a new holder and dealing with a groin injury, he returned to form last year, hitting 19 of 22 attempts, including missing only one attempt from inside of 50 yards and going 3 of 5 from 50-plus. While the Raiders signed free agent kicker Giorgio Tavecchio fairly early in the offseason, startling a few observers, it’s doubtful that we’ll see Sebass dethroned just yet.

Marquette King, meanwhile, seems firmly established as the Raiders punter of today and tomorrow. The Raiders just signed a camp leg in Steven Clark, but it would be a fantastic coup if he were to actually win the job over King. Jon Condo, the long-time Raider long-snapper, remains one of the best in the business and his job is likely safe as well.

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Seahawks have another great weapon in kicker Jason Myers
Seahawks have another great weapon in kicker Jason Myers /

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  • Last year, the Raiders lost premier gunner Taiwan Jones to injury, and his role was filled with a number of players, notably Jonathan Dowling and Chance Casey. Jones should be back healthy this year, and will return to his role as the team’s primary gunner on punt returns. Backup tight ends like Scott Simonson and Brian Leonhardt will likely be strong contributors to the team’s coverage units as well, as will Jamize Olawale.

    The Raiders still have a big question mark in the return game. Last year, returns were handled by a number of players, including TJ Carrie and Latavius Murray, but the Raiders struggled in the return game and Carrie and Murray are projected as starters now and will likely not be full-time return men. George Atkinson III seems the favorite to be the Raiders primary kickoff return man, but the Raiders will still have a need for a full-time punt returner. Look for the Raiders to maybe draft such a player late in the draft, or use an unheralded player like Jeremy Gallon.

    The Raiders roster, right now, is not the most talented in the league on paper, and there are several question marks about players who appear set to be starters in 2015. Still, Reggie McKenzie has used free agency to improve a few key positions, and did so with somewhat younger players on deals that won’t hurt the team three years down the road. With the draft looming, and moves still to be made, we still don’t know exactly what the 2015 Raiders will look like.