Seven-time Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler bid a fond but inevitable farewell Friday to the franchise that made him a rich man.

Lechler, 36, said Saturday that he would sign a contract with the Houston Texans, which according to ESPN would pay him $5.5 million over three years with a $1 million signing bonus.

The Raiders, with Marquette King waiting in the wings after a year on injured reserve, never made a move to bring back the leading punter in terms of gross yardage in NFL history.

"When I had zero contract talks throughout the year -- or even to this date -- I figured it was done," Lechler said in a phone interview. "A lot of great things happened in Oakland. There are not even enough words to describe how the Davis family helped me out, helped my family out.''

Houston was positioned to bid for Lechler when he was poised to go on the market in 2009 before Al Davis made him the richest punter in NFL history with a four-year, $16 million contract.

A Texas high school star as a quarterback and punter, Lechler's parents and in-laws still reside in the Houston area.

Lechler's gross average of 45.7 yards per punt is the highest in NFL history.

  • The Raiders signed exclusive rights to free agent linebacker Kaelin Burnett, the younger brother of free-agent acquisition Kevin Burnett.

  • The Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year contract with linebacker D.J. Williams, a former De La Salle High star and a possible replacement for Brian Urlacher.


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  • Nine-time Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed signed a three-year, $15 million contract with Houston, adding championship experience to the Texans defense and leaving the reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens without another of their cornerstone players.

  • The Panthers have signed unrestricted free agent wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. from the 49ers. Carolina announced that Ginn signed a one-year deal.

  • The Ravens will start the 2013 regular season on the road, because Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles wouldn't budge.

    Baseball

    Major League Baseball on Friday sued a now-shuttered South Florida clinic and its operators, accusing them of scheming to provide banned performance-enhancing drugs to players in violation of their contracts.

  • The New York Mets plan to put pitcher Johan Santana on the disabled list for the start of the season.

  • Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Eaton will be out for up to two months with a left elbow sprain.

    Motor sports

    Denny Hamlin won the pole for the second straight year at Fontana, turning a lap of 187.451 mph in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

    Skiing

    Laurenne Ross won the super G in the U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw Valley, beating Stacey Cook by 0.01 seconds for her first national title.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.