"Displaying one of the oldest traditions among the punter-gatherers, the lesser male brings an offering of four pig skins to the alpha."
We may have had some of the best choices ever yet for last week's caption. However, congratulations to .KARMA for coming up with an excellent caption for this photo. He actually received 25 recs, which might be the all-time high at this point. My second favorite was probably the one that finished in second place: "Shane Lechler looks on, baffled at Andy Lee’s inhuman ability to place four punts all within two feet of each other."
Rather than leave this as a stand-alone post, I thought it'd be nice to try and generate discussion on some related topic. A couple days ago, howtheyscored put up a FanShot about the Raiders giving Sebastian Janikowski a $16 million contract, making him the highest paid kicker in the league.
Now I realize Seabass is a very solid kicker. After getting off to a rather slow start his first year, Janikowski has been a fairly great kicker recently. At the time he was drafted, the kicking game was a problem for the Raiders. They had gone 8-8 the previous season. In their 10 games decided by 6 or fewer points, the Raiders were 4-6. I haven't looked into the details of the losses, but a better kicker might have been enough to get them into the playoffs. In fact, I vaguely recall Jon Gruden mentioning that as a justification.
The Raiders have invested a lot of money in Seabass and Shane Lechler (similar 4yr, $16M contracts for each of them). In bringing this back to Andy Lee, the 49ers have him signed through 2012 at just over $1 million per year. If by 2012 the 49ers have improved enough to become a playoff team (and dare I say, Super Bowl contender), do you unload a whole lot of money on your punter? Just assume there will be some kind of salary cap at this point.
If the offense has sufficiently improved, do you necessarily need an all-world punter? Lechler is six years older than Lee, and he just got $4 million a year. Obviously the Raiders are run by a crazy man, but it will potentially impact the 49ers own attempts to re-sign their punter. I realize this is still in the distant future, but I figured it's worth pondering.