CLEVELAND (AP) – The Browns believe they’ve kicked their special teams up a notch.
Cleveland acquired three-time Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers and released punter Spencer Lanning on Saturday, moves that complete a sweep of the Browns’ specialists from last season.
The Browns sent a late-round 2017 draft pick – ESPN.com reported a seventh-rounder – to the Niners for Lee, who made the Pro Bowl in the 2007, 2009 and 2011 seasons. His days in San Francisco were numbered when the Niners drafted Clemson punter Bradley Pinion this year.
Lanning’s release follows those of long snapper Christian Yount, who spent four seasons with Cleveland, and kicker Garrett Hartley. He took over the kicking duties late last season after Billy Cundiff struggled and was let go.
“We’ve said all along that we are going to be deliberate in our pursuit to acquire talent that we feel can improve our roster,” Browns general manager Ray Farmer said. “Andy Lee has consistently been a top punter in this league. We are excited to be able to add a punter of his caliber to our team. We wish Spencer the best. He has done a solid job for our team and has also been an outstanding representative for our organization off the field.”
Lanning spent two seasons with the Browns, who signed him as a free agent in 2013. He re-signed as an exclusive-rights free agent in March.
The 27-year-old averaged 44.3 yards per punt last season, dropping 25 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
“Been a hell of a ride,” Lanning wrote in a thank you to Cleveland fans on his Twitter account. “Y’all deserve a championship, hate I won’t be here to experience it. Can’t thank you enough for the memories!”
Lee’s days in San Francisco appeared numbered when the Niners drafted Clemson punter Bradley Pinion in the fifth round last month.
The 32-year-old has been one of the league’s most consistent punters for the past decade. He has appeared in 176 consecutive games – he was the longest tenured player on San Francisco’s roster. Last season, he ranked sixth in the league in average yards per punt (46.8), 15th in net (39.6) and ninth in punts inside the 20.
Lee said he’s excited about a new start with the Browns.
“I’ve heard so many good things about the city of Cleveland and the loyalty and passion of the fans from my former teammate Phil Dawson,” he said. “I’ve also heard some very positive things about the type of organization and team the Browns are building so my family and I are very much looking forward to becoming a part of it.”
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