The Cleveland Browns' overhaul of their special teams players continued on Saturday. Not too long after head coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer spoke with fans at the team's Fan Fest event at the Convention Center in Downtown Cleveland, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted the following:
Cleveland is trading a 7th-round pick in 2017 to San Francisco for three-time Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee, league sources told ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 6, 2015
Andy Lee has been one of the best punters in the NFL since he was a sixth-round draft choice by the 49ers in 2004. He is a three-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro. As a result of the acquisition, the Browns are parting ways with Spencer Lanning. Lanning had an improved season in 2014 and took the infamous kick to the head from Steelers WR Antonio Brown last season while trying to cover a punt. I appreciated the consistency that Lanning brought to the table last year, but overall, his numbers still trended toward the bottom of the league.
In 11 years in the NFL, Lee averaged 46.2 yards per punt, with a net average of 39.6 yards. In 2 years in the NFL, Lanning averaged 44.1 yards per punt, with a net average of 38.8 yards. Lee has historically been able to down more of his punts inside the 20 than Lanning too. The 49ers didn't mind moving on from Lee after they had drafted Clemson punter Bradley Pinion in the 5th round of this year's draft.
The Browns do absorb the remainder of Lee's contract, which is significantly more expensive than what Lanning would have been making. Lanning is an around-the-minimum type of punter, while Lee's contract runs through 2018 and his cap hits over the next four years are $2.55M, $3.33M, $3.43M, and $4.13M.
I'm sure some fans will think, "why couldn't we have gotten Phil Dawson back instead?" Nonetheless, what do you think of the Browns committing to one of the better punters in the NFL? Was it worth it, or should they have retained Lanning and continued to let him grow?