The Oakland Raiders have a lot of holes to fill this off-season, and for the first time in twelve years, one of those holes will be at the punter position. With the franchise tag deadline passing on Monday and the Raiders electing not to use their tag on anyone, any hope of retaining punter Shane Lechler was all but lost.
Because of Lechler's high salary and the tag requirement of 120% of the previous year's salary, the franchise tag was not an option, even if it was likely the only way the Raiders could keep their dynamic kicking duo together for another year. McKenzie is simply not going to spend Al Davis kinds of money on a punter, so Lechler will be able to get more money elsewhere in free agency.
Instead, the rumors of where Lechler will land have already begun with Adam Schefter reporting that Lechler is interested in joining the Houston Texans. Not a bad choice for Lechler, who has been one of the best punters in league history since being drafted by the Raiders in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. The Texans would allow Lechler an opportunity to win a Super Bowl before he retires.
Luckily for the Raiders, while you can never fill the shoes of a guy like Shane Lechler, the team already has its next punter lying in wait. Marquette King was signed by the Raiders as an undrafted free agent rookie last season and was on injured reserve all year. Having King is one of the reasons it is not a surprise that the Raiders will likely let Lechler walk.
King, who began his college career as a wide receiver, has the leg to match Lechler's but does not yet have the consistency he needs. That being said, he appears to be a suitable replacement, well, at least as suitable as you can get when trying to replace one of the best ever.