ALAMEDA – The Raiders only have two designations to return off injured reserve. They used one on Obi Melifonwu in Week 6. Antonio Hamilton got the other on Tuesday.
That means kicker Sebastian Janikowski won’t return this season from a back injury. There’s a real possibility 39-year old won’t play for the Raiders again.
His contract expires at season’s end, which might mean he's played his last down in silver and black. Janikowski is scheduled to hit the open market, and could play for another team for the first time since the Raiders selected him No. 17 overall in the 2000 draft.
That would mark the end of an era. We’re not there yet, but the Raiders could go younger and considerably cheaper after paying Janikowski $17.85 million since 2013. Janikowski renegotiated the last year of his deal to include $3 million guaranteed, an action executed just before he went on IR.
They have been pleased with Girogio Tavecchio this season, who stepped right in before Week 1 as Janikowski’s replacement. The Cal product, who spent four straight offseasons with the Raiders, is 12-for-15 this season with three field goals over 50 yards. Tavecchio has missed three extra point attempts this season. Tavecchio will be cheap, even as an exclusive rights free agent.
Hamilton still has a few weeks before he can contribute. Tuesday's return to practice opens a two-to-three week window for him to re-join the 53-man roster.
That’s a positive sign for an ailing group of defensive backs. David Amerson announced another one, saying he’ll return to practice Wednesday.
Hamilton was placed on IR after tearing the meniscus in his knee on the opening kickoff versus Baltimore. He has been doing side work, but will join regular practice in hopes of a late-season return.