Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Lechler Could Have A Franchise Tag With His Name On It

To tag or not to tag? That is the question NFL general managers are pondering at this point in the offseason. For Reggie McKenzie it could be as simple as taking one look at the current cap constraints and deciding there’s just no need to commit any cash before the next cap cleansing is complete.

As it stands the Raiders have yet to make any moves to free up cap space and the season of tagging begins Monday.

The Raiders have plenty of decision to make regarding who they’ll try to retain and who will be allowed to walk. Players like Brandon Myers, Philip Wheeler, Desmond Bryant, Matt Shaughnessy and Shane Lechler to name a few are all slated to hit the open market and all are expected to receive serious interest from other teams.

Most of those men have tag figures that are plain obscene given the fact the number is based on the average salary of the top five earners at the respective positions. Put it this way, if McKenzie slapped the franchise tag on Wheeler, a man who they’re sure to try and secure with a long-term deal, then he could expect a pay day in the neighborhood of $9-million for one season.

Wheeler is good…but not that good.

Now one man whose tag number wouldn’t kill McKenzie and who actually is in the top 5 at his position in the NFL is Lechler. Even though he’s coming off a very subpar season there is reason to believe the Raiders might retain his services for another year at the reasonable rate of just under $3-million while continuing to groom Marquette King who impressed during the preseason in 2012.

However $3-million is still a pretty big figure for a punter even if he is statistically the best to ever play the position.

McKenzie could easily let Lechler walk happy to unearth another undrafted gem like King or even to grab a punter off the NFL scrapheap at a discounted rate. That the Raiders kept King around by placing him on IR strongly indicates he’s got a future of some sorts. You’ll rarely see a team do that with a punter but the Raiders clearly wanted to make sure no other team could sign King.

So be prepared for plenty of contract drama in the coming weeks. There’s just no way of knowing how the franchise tag will turn in 2013.

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Tags: Oakland Raiders Shane Lechler

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