Raiders Showing Interest in Signing First Japanese NFL Player

jon gruden mike mayock

Getty Jon Gruden & Mike Mayock of the Las Vegas Raiders.

After blowing the Raiders away in 2018, Daniel Carlson struggled quite a bit in 2019. He went from missing only one field goal to missing seven. The team needs to be able to rely on their kicker for points and they can’t rely on Carlson anymore. That means they could open up a competition for kicker during this year’s training camp.

In fact, they could look to Japan to bring the competition. According to kicker Toshiki Sato, who plays for the IMB Blue of the Japanese American football league X-League, he could get a chance to be the first Japanese player to play in the NFL.

“The Cowboys and Raiders are interested. I’m waiting for an offer,” Sato told Kyodo News.

“The Cowboys might be difficult since they have three kickers and one has a big contract, but the Raiders only have two. I think there’s a chance I could get an invite if those two don’t do well at the upcoming camp.”

Sato holds the record for the longest field goal made in X-League history when he made a 58-yard field goal last year.

Sato Might Go to Canada if NFL Doesn’t Give Him Chance

The Raiders currently have Carlson and undrafted free agent Dominik Eberle, who was one of the top kickers in college football over the last few years. There’s going to be some serious competition if Sato does get a shot. He revealed that he might take his chances in Canada if an NFL team doesn’t bring him in.

“I was also in touch with a Canadian team and got a pretty good feeling. I’d like to play in Canada and produce good results and take that as a step,” Sato said. “If I play in Canada I’ll be seen by NFL scouts, and I’ll get treated better at tryouts. There’s no downside.”

Whether or not he does get signed by a CFL team, the goal will still be to get to the NFL.

Toshiki Sato Japanese Kicker/PunterToshiki Sato Best kicker in Japan   Position: Kicker/Punter Day of Birth: 09.30.1993 Hight: 5.10 Weight: 178 lb Kicking leg: Right Coach: Michael Husted :trained in San Diego with NFL and free agent kickers Longest FG in game : 58yd (2019) Longest in Japanese history Longest FG in practice : 65yd (2019) Home: Yokohama city Kanagawa…2020-02-01T09:04:20Z

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Sato Is Staying Ready

If Sato does make an NFL roster, he’d certainly be breaking new ground. Unfortunately, the outbreak of COVID-19 slowed down his chances but he was able to show off some of his skills before things went on lockdown.

“It was a blessing that I was able to try out in March (in spite of the outbreak),” Sato said. “Spring camps weren’t held, but players are always being replaced at summer and preseason camps. I want to get ready for when I’m called.”

The Raiders have proven in the past that they aren’t opposed to moving on from disappointing players. They gave up on drafted punter Johnny Townsend in favor of undrafted free agent A.J. Cole last training camp. Perhaps Sato could surprise and take over for Carlson. Regardless, he’s going to do what he can to get into the NFL.

“The first goal is playing in the NFL,” Sato said. “From there, I want to show that I am capable of doing something special.”

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