On Saturday, the Cleveland Browns traded a seventh-round pick in 2017 for Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee. The Browns gave up virtually nothing for the punter, and it’s because of the low price paid that the team can be comfortable with their most recent acquisition.
So was choosing Lee over Lanning the right choice? In all reality, probably; however, the gap between the two punters may be less that one might suspect, so lets take a closer look at both players to see how they compare to each other.
Lee was drafted in the sixth round (188th overall) by San Fransisco in the 2004 draft, and had played all 11 of his seasons with the 49ers. Lanning was picked up by the Browns in 2013 as an undrafted free agent, and played both of his seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
For his career, Lee has punted the ball 941 times, with a net average of 41.3 yards. Not bad. During his short career, Lanning has punted the ball 177 times with a net average of 40.1, not a huge difference there. Lee has been able to pin the opposing team behind the 20-yard line 31.9 percent of the time, with Lanning at 29.9 percent in the same statistical category. Neither punter has had a large percent of their punts blocked, with 0.4 percent for Lee and 0.5 percent for Lanning.
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Statistically the two are fairly similar, where they diverge is in age and experience. Lee (32 years old) has definitely been in more pressure situations as he has solid playoff experience (including a Super Bowl appearance) and 11 years in the league. Lanning (27 years old) has just two years in the league with no playoff appearances, but plenty of opportunities to pin opposing defenses back due to the oft-lethargic offense the Browns have put out over the last two seasons.
Lee was a solid pickup at a bargain-bin price. He will do his job well, bring another veteran presence to the team, along with winning know-how to the Browns locker room. Lanning still has a career in the NFL and will for some years to come, so he will likely be in the league for some time after Lee retires.
The Browns have added another Pro Bowler to their roster, a testament (if even a small one) to the work general manager Ray Farmer and the entire Cleveland Browns front office is doing to move this team out of the shadow of futility and one step closer to a regular place in the national spotlight.
Do you think Andy Lee is a better option at punter than Spencer Lanning?