Punters — nobody cares about them, right? Wrong.
Shane Lechler is one of the finest professionals ever to wear Silver and Black. The club sincerely appreciates his 13 years…
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) March 23, 2013
Former Raiders’ punter Shane Lechler spent 13 years with Oakland before he signed a 3-year, $5.5 million contract with the Houston Texans on Saturday. During his Raiders career, Lechler was easily the team’s most consistent performer — and arguably the best punter in NFL history not named Ray Guy. Lechler’s 47.5 yards per punt gross average was the best in NFL history. He often helped the Raiders gain an advantage in field position (only to watch the defense give up a longer touchdown drive).
So why the hell did the Raiders let Lechler go? Marquette King, that’s why. King is a chiseled, 6’0″ 192-pound punter out of Fort Valley State in Georgia. He gets 5.5 seconds of hang time and 60-80 yards in the air with regularity. Watch the video from January below for proof (yeah, it’s a punting video, but he launches rockets):
See? Serious hang time and distance. Oakland stashed King on injured reserve in 2012. While the rest of the Raiders’ team might still be terrible, Marquette King should be able to step into Lechler’s role pretty quickly.
Oh, just to remind you of Lechler’s leg. Here he is against the Bears in 2011. That’s 80 yards in the air.