The Raiders have waived Giorgio Tavecchio, a league source told NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday evening.
The surprise move came after the team’s incumbent kicker had a solid practice, rebounding from a somewhat slow start to training camp.
Tavecchio was in a position battle with undrafted rookie Eddy Pineiro, an undrafted free agent from Florida the Raiders nearly took in the seventh round. Pineiro received a significant signing bonus and turned pro with a massive leg and a strong track record in the SEC, despite relative inexperience playing football.
Head coach Jon Gruden said the kicker competition would extend into preseason games, with a victor decided as the summer wore on.
The Raiders chose to make this move early in camp, and add a new combatant.
A separate league source said the Raiders have signed veteran kicker Mike Nugent, who spent 13 years in the NFL with six different teams. That included seven seasons as Cincinnati’s kicker, and had two brief stints working with Raiders special teams coach Richard Bisaccia. Kicker and coach linked up in 2009 in Tampa Bay and again in Dallas last year.
Nugent is also right footed, unlike Tavecchio, meaning holder Johnny Townsend won’t have to alternate his battery actions to accommodate kickers with different dominant feet.
Nugent can mentor Pineiro, but he’s also here to compete for a job. Pineiro has been solid but not perfect, though he’s still the favorite to claim a regular-season roster spot.
That was the case with Tavecchio around. Bisaccia worked Pineiro out and came away impressed with his power and accuracy. He and Townsend both went to Florida, meaning they’re comfortable operating as a battery.
Tavecchio helped the Raiders out in a pinch last year. Sebastian Janikowski was placed on injured reserve with back issues just before the 2017 regular-season opener, and Tavecchio stepped right in and produced. He was integral in a season-opening win over Tennessee, and converted 16-of-21 field goal attempts.
Tavecchio was a feel-good story last year. The Cal and Moraga Campolindo High product spent five offseasons competing for jobs he didn’t get, until finally getting his big break in 2017. He was paired with Janikowski, a fellow left footer, in Raiders offseasons starting in 2014. He was ready to take a job outside of football in 2017, but was pulled back in for one last shot. He made the most of it, but that didn’t guarantee continued employment working in Gruden's return to the Raiders.
The Las Vegas Review Journal was first to report the news.