More than a month after free agency began, the Redskins and London Fletcher finally got a deal done. I figured that after a month of negotiations, the money would be lower than initially expected. I was wrong. Per Jason LaCanfora:
This was a weird situation for the Redskins. I think the world of London Fletcher. London Fletcher is so much more than just a player. He’s a leader. And not just “a leader” that fans like to call a leader because we see him on TV doing one of those pre-game “fire up the troops” speeches. He’s a true leader, by nothing more than the example he sets. Fletcher hasn’t missed a single game in his entire 14 year career. Including the playoffs, that’s 232 games. Think about that. A week ago, I put up the numbers for QB’s and how many games they’ve missed over their careers. Only one had over 100 consecutive starts at QB (Eli Manning with 119). And we’re talking about an inside linebacker here… a guy that’s taking on fullbacks in the hole, violently tackling running backs, and trying to avoid getting steamrolled by 320 lb. pulling guards. If you’re a 24 year old player and you’ve got a sore hammy, I’d have to imagine it would be pretty hard to look a guy like London Fletcher in the eye if you’re not doing everything you can to get back on the field.
Plus, (and of course this is kind of important too)… London Fletcher is still a good player.
But here’s the rub: Are the Redskins going to be realistic contenders to go to the Super Bowl this year? I mean… There’s a lot to be excited about with Robert Griffin III coming to town, but we can all probably agree that the Skins aren’t getting the faintest of whiffs of New Orleans in February, right? London Fletcher turns 37 in May. He has at least one year left of NFL service, maybe two, but almost certainly not 3 or more. I’ll allow you to connect the dots there.
Meanwhile, here is what some other ILB’s around the league signed for, with their contract details via NBC’s Rotoworld (in alphabetical order, with their respective ages when the season begins in parenthesis):
- Dan Connor (26): Signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract. The deal included a $2.7 million signing bonus. 2012: $800,000, 2013: $3 million, 2014: Free Agent
- David Hawthorne (27): Signed a five-year, $19 million contract. The deal included a $3.8 million signing bonus. 2012: $700,000, 2013: $1 million (+ $3 million roster bonus), 2014: $1 million (+ $1 million roster bonus), 2015: $2 million (+ $2.5 million roster bonus), 2016: $4 million, 2017: Free Agent
- Curtis Lofton (26): Signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract. The deal contains $7.8 million guaranteed — a $5 million signing bonus and each of Lofton’s first three base salaries. Another $6 million is available through escalators. Lofton is eligible for annual $100,000 workout bonuses in years four and five. 2012: $700,000, 2013: $1.1 million (+ $5 million roster bonus), 2014: $1 million (+ $2.2 million roster bonus), 2015: $2.4 million (+ $4.5 million roster bonus), 2016: $5.4 million, 2017: $6 million (Voidable Year), 2018: Free Agent
- Joe Mays (27): Signed a three-year, $12 million contract. The deal contains $4.5 million guaranteed, including a $500,000 signing bonus, all of Mays’ first-year salary, and $500,000 of his second-year salary. 2012: $3.5 million, 2013: $4 million, 2014: $3.5 million (+ $500,000 roster bonus), 2015: Free Agent
- Jameel McClain (27): Signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract. The deal included a $3.6 million signing bonus. 2012: $700,000, 2013: $3 million, 2014: $3.2 million, 2015: Free Agent
- Stephen Tulloch (27): Signed a five-year, $25.5 million contract. The deal contains $11.25 million guaranteed, including a $6.25 million signing bonus and all of Tulloch’s first two base salaries. 2012: $1.25 million, 2013: $3.5 million, 2014-2015: Under Contract, 2016: $5.5 million (+ $500,000 roster bonus), 2017: Free Agent
If you’ll notice, every LB on this list has a contract that is every bit as affordable as the contract London Fletcher just signed, and they’re all at least 10 years younger.
Would you rather be set up long term with a younger LB that can grow with the team and still be around when the team is ready to seriously compete, or are Fletcher’s short term leadership intangibles really that important?
I’m not really sure where I stand on this one, even with zero emotion invested.