When Oakland Raiders free agent punter Shane Lechler signed a three-year deal with the Houston Texans this offseason, he says he felt that “there was a little bit of bitter feelings between myself and Oakland.”
However, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Lechler says he has no hard feelings towards his former team.
A seven time Pro Bowler and member of the All-Pro team nine times, Lechler is the greatest punter in Raiders history. He was named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade team, and has the record for the longest punt in Raiders history: 80 yards.
But it was no secret heading into the offseason that Lechler would test the free agent market.
After 13 seasons, Lechler thought he would spend his entire career in the Silver and Black, but “there was really no talks with [the Raiders] so I figured they were ready to turn the page and move on. I had a pretty good talk with the owner, with Mark Davis. After I told him just be honest with me. If you guys are ready to move on, I understand. Luckily, maybe it worked out the best for both sides at this point in my career.”
I believe one of the reasons why the Raiders let Lechler go was because they wanted to show everyone that they were turning the page to a new regime, and rebuilding the franchise. Lechler was the NFL’s highest-paid punter when he signed a four year, $16 million contract in 2009, and he deserved every penny.
However, when you’re a rebuilding franchise with a new ownership, and you want to show people that you’ve moved away from the days of Al Davis, then it probably was a smart move to give an aging punter a long-term, multi-million dollar contract.
To their credit, the Raiders did publicly wish Lechler the best via Twitter, something that they rarely do.
Lechler sure noticed it.
“Yes, I did and it felt good,” Lechler said. “I was with an organization that we had our ups and downs. Just to have those guys tick behind me the way they did and support me and to wish me luck as I moved on, that meant a lot to me.”