The Oakland Raiders may say goodbye to their franchise punter this offseason. Shane Lechler, who has punted for the Raiders the last 12 seasons, becomes an unrestricted free agent. If that is the case, the Oakland punting game is in good hand with Marquette King.
King was signed as a undrafted free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft and punted in two games this preseason to rave reviews. While Lechler was rehabbing an injury, King averaged 40.2 yards per punt against the Dallas Cowboys and 49.0 yards per punt against the Arizona Cardinals. In the Cardinals game, King boomed a 71 yard punt. During training camp, the rookie put on a show with long, high punts. He still needs to work on consistently hitting punts squarely, but has the makings to lock the position for years to come. King was placed on injured reserve last season, so the Raiders could continue to use Lechler as the punter and not have to use a roster spot on King. If the Raiders don't resign Lechler, King will be the starter entering the offseason.
Lechler has been one of the greatest punters in the NFL during his 12 year career and he was paid accordingly. He has been named to nine All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls. Last season he made 3.8 million dollars in base salary, which would seem like the going rate to resign him. On the other hand, King is scheduled to make 405,000 in 2013. With the Raiders still trying to manage their salary cap situation, money could make the difference in who is punting next year. Lechler ended the 2012 season averaging 47.2 yards per punt. His net average of 39 yards was his lowest in six years. At 36 years of age, Lechler remains a very good punter, but the chances look slim he will use his skills in Oakland next season.
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