Friday, March 22, 2013
Lechler exit signals end of an Oakland era
By Bill Williamson
In another reminder that the Al Davis era is over, punter Shane Lechler is a former Oakland Raider.
Lechler's signing with the Houston Texans is the end of a long, solid run with the franchise.
The Raiders have lost several players this offseason as the new regime tries to control contracts and start fresh. But the reality is that one of the greatest punters ever to play in the NFL is a former Raider.
Lechler was with Oakland since 2000 and was a dominant weapon for the team. Davis paid Lechler a premium because the owner wanted the best at the position.
The Raiders are undergoing a total makeover and decided not to pursue Lechler. It is curious because ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Lechler signed with Houston for three years for a total of $5.5 million. Davis made Lechler the highest-paid punter in NFL history, at the rate of $4 million a season. This deal is much more reasonable, but the new Oakland brass would still rather spend elsewhere.
Lechler is 36 and coming off an injury. Still, he is a solid player.
Oakland will likely take a long look at the young Marquette King. He was stashed on injured reserve last season after an impressive training camp and preseason. King has a booming leg but is inconsistent. It would be premature to think King will be a suitable replacement for Lechler because it often takes young punters a long time to become solid NFL players. But King does have potential.
It is a new world in Oakland and potential outweighs legacy -- just the way it is for a team in transition.
In other AFC West news:
The Denver Post reports that the Broncos think they will host a "Monday Night Football" game in Week 1 and not the Baltimore Ravens in the season-opening Thursday game.
The Raiders re-signed linebacker Kaelin Burnett, an exclusive-rights free agent, in a procedural move. He is the younger brother of new linebacker Kevin Burnett.