WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Nearly one month into the NFL free agency period the Washington Redskins have not yet been able to re-sign London Fletcher.
Getting a deal done with the veteran linebacker, who led the league in tackles last season, was a priority according to the team.
Some got their hopes up last week after former NFL player Hugh Douglas tweeted Fletcher had signed a new deal following a chance encounter with him at the Orlando Airport. Fletcher was quick to shoot down the report and remains a free agent.
The $36 million cap adjustment levied against the Redskins is a factor in the equation. Pending the results of arbitration, the team must absorb at least half of the amount this year.
Fletcher, who turns 37 next month, is trying to make the most out of what will likely be his final NFL contract.
“He’s trying to maximize his deal,” said linebacker Lorenzo Alexander who has spoken with Fletcher, but didn’t know exactly where negotiations stood.
Coming off a 2011 campaign in which he was the team’s lone representative at the Pro Bowl, Fletcher is holding the bulk of cards.
“He has leverage at this point,” Alexander added, citing durability and the fact Fletcher already has a Super Bowl ring.
Other teams around the league have also expressed interest in signing him, which also favors Fletcher at the negotiating table.
What is unclear, however, is whether teams outside of Washington view him as simply a depth player due to his age or whether they would feel comfortable featuring him in a prominent role. That is something Fletcher and his agent will determine during the negotiating process, but is unlikely to impact the value of the deal he ultimately signs.
“At this point he can kind of sit and wait and allow them to negotiate against themselves and get the best deal for him and his family,” Alexander explained. “That’s what you have to do in this business because it’s not for long. Obviously, if the shoe was on the other foot and (the other teams) had leverage, they would take advantage of the situation as well.”
That won’t be the case in the locker room where his absence will resonate for the duration of the season.
“Even though it’s a business, you throw everything out the window and bring him back because of what he means to this team on and off the field,” Alexander concluded.