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Lechler, Seymour might not return to Oakland

The SportsXchange

Auditions for the 2013 Raiders are underway.

Coach Dennis Allen has made it clear that while every effort will be made to win the last three games of the season, there will also be a heavy emphasis in seeing some of the younger players to see how they fit into the club's future.

For that matter, the veterans will be watched closely as well.

The two most notable veterans who may be wrapping things up in Oakland are punter Shane Lechler and defensive tackle Richard Seymour.

Lechler is in the final year of a four-year contract that paid him $16 million, the most money ever paid to a punter.

Seymour's contract will also allow him to void the remainder of the deal and become a free agent.

Given the age of both players and the money it would take to keep them, both could be playing elsewhere next season.

The Raiders are 3-10, have lost six consecutive games, and an organization that has already undergone sweeping change can expect more house-cleaning following the season.

A seven-time Pro Bowl selection, Lechler is the NFL's all-time leader in gross punting average. But he's currently ranked 10th in the NFL in gross average (47.3 yards per punt) and 21st in net (38.3), the latter figure the second-lowest of his career.

He has already had conversations with his wife about a future that may not include the Raiders after 13 seasons in silver and black.

"It's one of those things you don't have any control over and it's kind of frustrating," Lechler said. "In the same sense, it's exciting and frustrating at the same time."

Lechler came into the season having had surgery just before training camp on his plant (left) leg, and only in the past few weeks has been booming kicks with his usual hang time.

"The numbers I've put up this year have been my numbers," Lechler said. "I've still got three games to correct some stuff and get ready to find out what's going to happen after this year."

Given the inclination of general manager Reggie McKenzie to hold the line on big salaries, as opposed to Al Davis' propensity for spending big, the presence of punter Marquette King on injured reserve could be seen as preparing for the Raiders having their first new punter since the 2000 season.

King was kicking the ball with Lechler-like height and distance during training camp, but had an alarming number off miss-hits as well. When King injured a foot in a weight room accident the week of the final preseason game, it provided the opportunity to put him on injured reserve.

And rather than reach an injury settlement after King's foot healed, the Raiders kept him on injured reserve and are expected to bring him back next season to compete for the job -- Lechler or no Lechler.

Lechler didn't deny that King's presence was a little disconcerting at first.

"It was frustrating for a little while because this is my job and it has been mine for 13 years," Lechler said. "I took it a little bit personal early, but after that I was like, 'You know what? I can only worry about so many things around here.' That was one of them I needed to stop worrying about.

Seymour has missed the last five games with a hamstring strain and although he's been named to a pair of Pro Bowls as a Raider, the defense has been disappointing each season.

At 33, Seymour has been prone to injury and has missed more and more practices the past two seasons.

"I would love to be a Raider but I have earned the right to be a free agent," Seymour told the San Francisco Chronicle.

With that in mind, Seymour has three weeks to get some game tape for prospective employers as the Raiders close out the season by hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, followed by road assignments at Carolina and San Diego.

With the Raiders having cut starting cornerback Ron Bartell on Monday as well as fullback Owen Schmitt, the evaluation process for next season is well underway.

"It's a business," Seymour said. "Everybody is being evaluated from the top to the bottom. We're in this together, and we have to put our best foot forward. This is a great week to get back on track."

Whether Seymour can actually face the Chiefs will probably not be determined until game day, but he said he enjoyed getting back on the field.

"That's one of the things you miss most, just being in the locker room with the guys and obviously being on the field with them," Seymour said. "I'm moving in the right direction. I'm not there yet, but it's a step in the right direction in terms of getting on the field, getting in some football work.

"I don't need much practice to be ready to play, but I have to feel good and I have to be able to do my job at high level."

His 2013 salary, as well as that of Lechler, will depend on it. Whether it's with the Raiders or another team.
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