If the writers at Battle Red Blog got paid as much as the staff of Wikipedia, we would have beaten them to the punch on the report that former Raiders punter Shane Lechler just became the latest free agent to sign with the Houston Texans. Instead, we didn't. You know the Texans have acquired a seriously good player (for his position, at least) when his following is so fanatical that someone is updating his Wikipedia page within 45 minutes of The Houston Chronicle breaking the story.
Texans have agreed to terms with P Shane Lechler.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 23, 2013
Apparently, Texans general manager Rick Smith can now rest easy.
GM Rick Smith wanted Lechler 4 years ago but he re-signed with Raiders.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 23, 2013
Smith has a well-chronicled like of Lechler. Whether McClain feels the same depends largely on how things go the next time he feels entitled to a quote from a future Hall of Famer.
Reed refused to speak to reporters: "Not tonight. I'll catch y'all tomorrow."— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 22, 2013
We chased Reed all the way to parking lot after waiting 3 hrs and wouldn't give us courtesy of even stopping.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 22, 2013
For 34 years I've met All-Pros and Hall of Famers at airport and can't remember any of them refusing to comment.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 22, 2013
Oh well. It only matters what Reed does on the field. He was so nice when we met him last week, though.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) March 22, 2013
The move marks a homecoming of sorts for the 14-year veteran, a Houston native during the offseason. Lechler starred at Texas A&M after attending high school in the small Texas town of East Bernard. Some of you may have heard of that place, but I never had until tonight. This, despite the fact that it's exactly 50.1 miles from Reliant Stadium.
Lechler is certainly an upgrade over the man who handled Texans' punts in 2012, but comes at a much higher cost. Donnie Jones made a base salary of $825,000 last season with a cap hit of $890,000, while Lechler made $3.8 million and counted for $4.9 million against the cap in the last season of a record four-year, $16 million deal he received from the ancien régime in Oakland. No official announcement has been made on the contract he got this time around, but it appears Lechler won't come anywhere near making those kinds of dollars here.
However, the people of East Bernard will not go hungry.
Former Raiders Pro-Bowl P Shane Lechler is signing a 3-year, $5.5 million contract that includes a $1 million signing bonus with Texans.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 23, 2013
Without knowing how the contract is structured, we can't say for now what his cap figure will be, but it will certainly draw groans from certain quarters. To allocate so much scarce cap capital to someone that doesn't run, catch, or throw in an offseason that has seen the Texans acquiesce* to the departures of Connor Barwin and James Casey will seem illogical to many (*They clearly did not acquiesce to Quin's departure, but welcomed it).The difference in money Houston is spending on Lechler versus any replacement is not enough to have retained either of those two players, and is not enough to serve as a cap burden in the future. Let's just hope it doesn't prevent the Texans from being able to come up with that extra million or two to sign a serviceable veteran plug for the holes at right tackle, inside linebacker, or any other position.
There is good news for all the Matt Schaub haters, especially the ones equally pessimistic about T.J. Yates: Lechler has a history behind center. He led East Bernard High School to the state quarterfinals as a senior quarterback, completing over 86 percent of his passes or 1,640 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a punter back then as well. The man once punted a ball 85-yards in a high school game. I learned all of this from the workhorses at Wikipedia.
There will be just as many people stoked on this signing as there are pissed. There may even more people that are excited about it. A great gauge of the overall Texan fan sentiment is when something triggers a text from my buddy Connor. The biggest Texans fan I know never felt the need to pick up his phone one time during the whole of #BattleReedWatch, but he was all over the news on Lechler:
"A great punter gives the defense more opportunities to play aggressively and the offense can be more aggressive around the 50. I'd rather they throw a 30 yd seam on third and medium then always try a shitty screen or a slant to Andre. Lechler makes any outcome troublesome. And he's kind of fat. Every team needs a chubby man."
Seven Pro Bowls, and nine times an NFL All-Pro.
Nine Times (via senoritasophs13)
That's right. Nine times. In only 13 seasons. Some will say he's slipping, but the man was fourth in the league in punting average last season with 47.1 ypg. And he's a punter. Do punters even die?
Plus, he's got a bit of a pot belly and came at a very "reasonable sum," as Connor puts it.
Somewhere, special teams coordinator Joe Marciano is equally confident in keeping his job as he would have been had the Texans signed me to be the new punter.
Anyone taking a break from basketball, we welcome your thoughts.