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Troubled Kicker Close To Deal

Kicker Sebastian Janikowski, the first-round draft pick who has had recent run-ins with the law, appears close to signing a contract with the Oakland Raiders.

Jacksonville-based agent Paul Healy would not release terms of the deal nor would he confirm the pending signing Wednesday. He did say Janikowski would be present at a news conference Thursday at his office, however.

A spokesman for the Raiders on Wednesday said they have "nothing to announce yet."

Quarterback Chad Pennington, the player drafted one spot below Janikowski, signed a five-year deal worth $5.7 million with the New York Jets. Janikowski's deal is expected to be worth about the same, although his off-field problems may have played a part in the negotiations.

The Raiders surprised a lot of people by selecting the troubled Florida State kicker 17th overall in the draft.

Last month, he was charged with possession of the designer drug GHB, also known as the "date-rape" drug.

He is free on bond, awaiting arraignment on those charges. He is allowed to leave the state to practice with the Raiders, who begin training camp Friday.

Earlier in June, the native of Poland was found innocent of trying to bribe a Tallahassee policeman with $300 to release his roommate from custody after an argument with a bouncer who wouldn't let him into a local nightclub.

Despite the problems, the Raiders liked his strong leg. They made him the first kicker to be chosen in the first round since New Orleans selected Russell Erxleben of Texas with the 11th pick in 1979.

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