Acquiring the second overall pick in this month's NFL draft may have been the biggest story for the Washington Redskins this offseason, but as of Friday, the team is on the verge of completing a deal that is every bit as important to their chances of improving in 2012.
Negotiations between the team and linebacker London Fletcher, who led both the team and the entire National Football League with 166 tackles last year, have heated up, according to a report by the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora.
The Washington Redskins and linebacker London Fletcher are trying to finalize a deal before start of offseason program Monday, according to a team source.
Fletcher, a Pro Bowl-quality linebacker and the lifeblood of Washington’s locker room, remains unsigned, but both sides are making a push to get it done and there is a sense it could come together this weekend.
It was originally assumed that the 36-year-old linebacker, who has played the past five seasons in the nation's capital, was a virtual lock to return to the team. However, as Pro Football Talk reported Friday, talks have proceeded excruciatingly slowly, which led some to question Fletcher's future with the Redskins.
The start of workouts seem to have energized talks that haven’t gone anywhere despite open desire for a return on both sides of the table. There have been reports that the cap penalties imposed on the Redskins were hindering things, but it seems they’ve found a breakthrough.
Fletcher may be the single most underrated player in the National Football League, as although he has logged at least 125 tackles a season every year since 2002 and not missed a single game over that stretch, the 14-year veteran has only been named an All-Pro once.
Granted, Fletcher isn't getting any younger, but he didn't show any significant signs of slowing down last year, and he's nearly as valuable for his leadership abilities—given the Redskins' youth at the linebacker spot—as he is for his contributions on the gridiron.
Assuming that Robert Griffin is the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft and that he finds himself starting at quarterback sooner rather than later, Griffin's odds of success will be much better if the Redskins aren't constantly playing from behind, which makes bringing back the team's defensive captain a necessity that Washington is hopefully close to fulfilling.
UPDATE: USA Today reports that Fletcher and the Redskins have agreed to a two-year contract, and Fletcher hiself confirmed via his Twitter account Friday evening that he will be remaining in Washington.