On Aug 10, 2012, Cleveland Browns punter Spencer Lanning (5) warms up before the preseason game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. - Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns announced today that they have signed punter Spencer Lanning to a contract. The Browns aren't strangers to Lanning; they claimed him off waivers last May from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and he had the credentials to be a legitimate threat to Reggie Hodges' starting job. When push came to shove, the Browns waived Lanning at the end of training camp and ended up keeping Hodges.
With the way things stand now, you have to think that Lanning once again has a legitimate chance at becoming the Browns' starting punter in 2013. The Browns overhauled their coaching staff in the offseason, but they retained both of their special teams coaches, who are familiar with Lanning. Also, Reggie Hodges is coming off of a terrible year and will be an unrestricted free agent in March.
I don't think this signals the end for Hodges just yet, though. With another offseason of recovery, Hodges has the potential to return to his 2010 form (he missed the entire 2011 season with an Achilles injury). The Browns should be able to offer him a relatively low contract, and unless teams are really desperate for the services of a struggling punter, I imagine Hodges would take any deal in a heartbeat.
Earlier in the day, it had been reported that punter Brian Stahovich had a tryout with the Browns. My guess would be that the Browns tried out Stahovich and Lanning, and decided to give Lanning a second shot at a competition.
Last year, Lanning was a punter in the UFL with the Sacramento Mountain Lions. That league only consists of four teams, and the season was halted after four games. Lanning finished with a 40.3 average, ranked last in the limited sample size.