Suddenly, Marquette King is the elder statesmen in the Oakland Raiders’ special teams meeting room.
Man, time flies.
This offseason, as the Raiders transition to Jon Gruden 2.0, we have become sentimental when it’s come to the Raiders’ special teams. It’s truly the end of the Al Davis era. Not only was Jon Condo the last piece of the Raiders when Davis died in October 2011, but the change of philosophy on special teams is another indication the Davis days are over. Davis’ Raiders may have been unstable at head coach and quarterback for much of Davis’ later years, but his special teams were a study in structure.
Davis always loved to have a stable specialist trio. For the longest time, it was Shane Lechler at punter, Sebastian Janikowski at kicker and Condo at long snapper. Lechler and Seabass came to Oakland in 2000 and Condo started his reign six years later. The Raiders went away from Lechler in 2013 and this year, they are saying goodbye to Janikowski and Condo.
Wednesday, Condo announced that the Raiders informed his agent they will not re-sign him. Condo is a free agent. Seabass is dealing with the same fate.
Stability at special teams is a luxury. The Gruden-Reggie McKenzie Raiders are clearly going young at the specialist group. And, of course, cheap.
Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio has the inside track at kicker and there will be an open competition at long snapper.
Times have changed.
The only figure of stability for the Raiders’ specialist is suddenly King. King has been the Raiders’ punter since 2013. He signed a five-year deal in 2016. He is not going anywhere. King who somehow turns 30 this year, has a chance to kick for the Raiders for another decade. He can go down in history with the likes of Hall of Fame Ray Guy and Lechler for the longest tenured punters in franchise history.
So, take solace. It is a new day for the Raiders’ special teams. There will be new faces and sadly, the older faces have faded away.
King was the first of the new-school special teamers for the Raiders as he replaced Lechler. It has worked out swimmingly. The heavy-legged King is a baller.
The Raiders can now only hope they can replicate the same success with their new kicker and snapper.