The San Francisco 49ers have traded punter Andy Lee to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a 2017 seventh-round draft pick, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Lee, a three-time Pro Bowler, has been with the 49ers since the team took him in the sixth round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Lee is also a four-time All-Pro, and has been one of the most consistent players on the team. When the 49ers are bad, he's the unironic MVP here at Niners Nation, and it's somewhat puzzling to see this kind of move made. Well, it's not exactly puzzling since the 49ers used a fifth-round pick on rookie punter Bradley Pinion in the 2015 NFL Draft, but it was puzzling that they did that in the first place.
No, when the team took Pinion, it was obvious that something was going to happen with Lee. I'm a little surprised it's happening after a handful of organized team activities, and I'm surprised the 49ers were only able to get a seventh-round pick for a guy who is still clearly very good at what he does. But if the writing was on the wall, I imagine teams were content to let Lee hit the open market to make a move on him there. After all, it stands to reason most teams are settled at the punter position at this stage in the offseason.
There are those will ask if this has anything to do with Anthony Davis retiring, with someone on Twitter asking me whether or not it suggested cap space was being cleared to extend Alex Boone so he can start at the right tackle spot. I don't think that's the case -- this move was clearly a long time in the making and it occurred after OTAs for a reason. Boone could wind up being the right tackle in the future but I don't think it's as simple as moving a few pieces and drawing up an extension.
Still, the move clears a significant amount of money from the books. Lee was due $2.55 million this coming season, while Pinion will make just under $500,000. Lee's cap hit was set to increase significantly over the next three seasons, with $3.33 million in 2016, $3.433 million in 2017 and $4.13 million in 2018.
Anyway, sorry for the late and brief post -- it seems as though Fooch isn't around and I'm working at the moment. So have fun in the dumpster fire.