HOUSTON — The Houston Texans released veteran punter Shane Lechler just before what would have been his 19th NFL season.
Lechler was let go after the Texans decided to go with undrafted rookie Trevor Daniel.
The 42-year-old Lechler spent the first 13 years of his career with the Raiders before joining the Texans in 2013. He started 206 games for Oakland and never missed a game as a Texan, making all 80 starts in his five seasons with the team.
Coach Bill O'Brien said making the final cuts to the roster are always hard, but that this one is particularly difficult.
"Shane Lechler's one of the best pros I've ever been around, and if you look back at kind of who I've been around, I've been around some good pros, and he's one of the best, he said.
Lechler, a fifth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M in 2000, was a seven-time Pro Bowler and was first-team All-Pro six times. He ranks second in NFL history with 1,444 punts for 68,676 yards.
"He was a great leader here, was a captain," O'Brien said. "In my opinion, he's a Hall of Fame punter. So, we had a good talk this morning and we decided to head in that direction. ... We try to make decisions in the best interest of the team, but sometimes those decisions are very difficult."
Lechler is the all-time NFL leader in yards per punt with 47.6 and he led the league in yards per punt in five seasons. He was in the top 10 in 11 other years. He led the NFL in punting yards in four seasons, including last year when he had 4,507.
In 2011 he had a career-long punt of 80 yards, which led the NFL that year, and he also had the longest punt in the league in 2003 when he booted one 73 yards.
Lechler went to high school in East Bernard, Texas where he was the team's quarterback, kicker and punter before a four-year career at Texas A&M, where he was the team's punter and kicked off for the Aggies.
"Shane's a Texas legend," O'Brien said. "He's a guy who grew up in this state, comes from a coaches' family, I have a great deal of respect for Shane and wish him the best."
O'Brien said he doesn't believe Daniel will be under any extra pressure to perform because he's replacing someone like Lechler.
"It's the National Football League. That's a part of the deal," he said. "We're all here to produce and to try to perform, and that's what we're trying to do."