For years now, the Oakland Raiders have fielded one of the most lethal special teams duos throughout the NFL. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler are a dynamic one-two punch that you just can’t find everywhere these days.
Well, that dynamic-duo might not exist for much longer. There’s a good chance that the Raiders could let Lechler, a free agent in 2013, test his value on the open market this upcoming offseason.
Lechler, a fifth-round pick in 2000, is tied with Janikowski as the longest-tenured player on the Raiders’ roster. The nine-time All-Pro punter has recently seen his effectiveness decrease, though, which has brought into question whether or not he’s worth the $3.8 million that he made in 2012.
Although his numbers didn’t see a huge drop, Lechler did end the season with one of the lowest yards-per-punt averages in his last few years. His net average also saw a significant decline as he failed to consistently pin opponents inside their own 20. For a man known for his abilities as a coffin corner punter, the 2012 season was far from a highlight reel.
If Lechler doesn’t stick with the Raiders in 2013, the punting duties would likely be passed to Marquette King. An undrafted rookie out of Fort Valley State in 2012, the little-known punter proved during the preseason that he has the leg to pick up where Lechler left off before being stashed on Injured Reserve. King is a diamond-in-the-rough type of player who deserves a shot and that could be a huge part of why the Raiders are willing to let Lechler walk.
A different era of Raiders football has begun. This is no longer Al Davis’ team, which means that changes will come in bunches as general manager Reggie McKenzie starts to carve his own niche in the franchise’s history. If fan favorites like Lechler must fall, then so be it.