For the first time since 1999, Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski will not be the kicking duo for the Oakland Raiders.
The pair were arguably the best kicking duo in the NFL in those past 14 seasons and the continuity at one position is rarely seen now a days in the league. The two were by far the best players Oakland had this year and although Lechler had a sub-par year, he was a reliable punter who was not the cause of Oakland’s struggles. Therefore, watching Lechler leave the Raiders was a puzzling move given the fact Oakland has no heir apparent in place.
It is clear Oakland wants to get younger and reload the roster with new players, but that doesn’t mean the Raiders need to start completely over. Reggie McKenzie very well may be sacrificing this season for the future, which may not be a bad thing, but something that may be should have been done last year.
The assumption is Oakland will bring in a bunch of free agent rookie punters for training camp and have them compete for the job. There are no other veteran punters on the market worthy of being the starter and I doubt McKenzie uses a draft pick on a punter. The ironic part is there are no really good college punters in the draft this year that will be there for Oakland. The only good punter in this year’s class is LSU’s Brad Wing, but he is expected to go off the board in the fifth round, when the Raiders don’t have a selection.
I am all for getting younger, but McKenzie has certainly puzzled many fans with some of his moves. The only way to tell if they pay off is if the Raiders can pick up some wins.