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Report: Arizona Cardinals could have interest in Carolina punter Andy Lee

Carolina Panthers punter Andy Lee stretches before an NFL football preseason game against the Tennessee Titans Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

The Arizona Cardinals have had a punting competition going on throughout training camp.

Matt Wile and Richie Leone are vying for the position on this year’s team, but heading into the final preseason game against Denver Thursday night, neither had separated himself.

Don’t believe it? Check the numbers.

“It will go to the wire,” head coach Bruce Arians said about the punting battle on Aug. 24. “It”ll go to the wire, especially with the new rules about not having to cut anybody.”

So Wile and Leone will handle the duties against the Broncos, but even a standout performance by either of them might not be enough to secure the job.

Reports out of Charlotte Wednesday morning indicate that the Carolina Panthers are gauging trade interest on veteran punter Andy Lee.

Lee, 35, is in his second season with Charlotte, but had his 2016 campaign cut short by a torn hamstring. He’s currently battling with Michael Palardy for the Panthers’ punting position.

From Jourdan Rodrigue and Joseph Person’s report in the Charlotte Observer:

Lee took a pay cut this spring from base salaries of $3.43 million in 2017 and $4.13 million in 2018 to $1 million and $1.1 million, respectively. That manageable sum, plus his name-recognition, are possibly two appealing factors to teams in the market for a punter.

That kind of fits the Cardinals, doesn’t it?

Lee spent 11 years in San Francisco, where he was a teammate of Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson from 2013 to 2015. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler and led the league, averaging 50.9 yards per punt — the third-highest single-season mark in NFL history.

Mike Jurecki of 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station, has learned that the Cardinals do have interest in Lee, and by having four compensatory selections in the 2018 NFL Draft — a third-round, a fourth-round and two sixth-round picks — could have the requisite resources to get a deal done prior to the regular season opener in Detroit.

But resources might not matter given that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Panthers released the veteran punter on Saturday.

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