There’s no question that Shane Lechler is one of the best punters in the NFL.
When the Oakland Raiders drafted Sebastian Janikowski in the first round and Shane Lechler in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, their special teams unit instantly transformed into one of the league’s best.
Lechler’s career-long punt stands at 80 yards, and his ability to pin opposing teams back deep is a weapon that the Raiders should be thankful for.
But is he worth the money?
In 2009, the Raiders became anxious when Lechler was expected to become an unrestricted free-agent, until they signed him to a 4-year, $16 million deal that made him the NFL’s highest-paid punter.
It’s no surprise that the 12-year veteran from Texas A&M is getting old. As he slowly approaches his 37th birthday, I think it’s time for the Raiders to look elsewhere for a punter. Somebody young. Somebody like Marquette King.
King, an undrafted free-agent, is only 24 years old and has a cannon for a leg. The Raiders placed him on the injured reserve list in order to keep him on the team instead of cutting him when they had to reduce their roster size to a final 53.
The Raiders were lucky to snag King, as he has a bright future, and showed some promising signs in the preseason.
And whenever a rookie comes into the NFL, especially one that is undrafted, you know that they always have to have the utmost confidence and belief in themselves if they want to truly succeed on the world’s brightest stage. Nobody should be doubting King’s confidence.
“To be honest, I know when I hit my A ball I am just as good as any punter,” said King, who began his collegiate career playing wide receiver.
Head coach Dennis Allen is also on board with King and the talents he brings, and that will play a pivotal role when the times comes to choose between re-signing Lechler or going with the young gun.
“When he hits it, he hits it as good as anybody,” coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s just got to work on staying consistent.”
It’s going to be very tough, but the Oakland Raiders should let go of Shane Lechler. They should spend the money that would have originally gone to Lechler, on another free-agent that is worthy of signing. Maybe go for a Mike Wallace, a speedy and young receiver that should draw interest to the Raiders’ organization.
Or maybe even pursue a defensive player like Jairus Byrd, an up-and-coming safety who could really help out a struggling Raiders squad.
All in all, the Raiders have a tough choice to make. But with Lechler growing old, it’s time to move on and develop their punter of the future, as he has a lot of work to do.